Attachment, postnatal depression and child development

There is increasing evidence that postnatal depression may significantly and negatively impact on children’s development through its effects on the quality of the parent-child relationship.

A longitudinal study of children with postnatally depressed mothers found they were more likely to experience insecure mother-child attachment. Furthermore, this insecurity consistently predicted the quality of the child’s social and emotional development from early childhood through to adolescence.

This study will return to the original sample of these children (now adults) in order to assess their attachment status. Researchers will test whether:

a) there will be continuity in the quality of attachment from infancy to adulthood; and

b) this continuity will explain some of the long-term adverse impact of maternal postnatal depression on the social and emotional outcomes of young adults.

Project details



Pasco Fearon, University of Reading

Grant amount and duration:


November 2009 - April 2011