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The Effects of Maternal Depression on Children's Language Development

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 — Poster Session II

Noon – 2:00 p.m

Natcher Conference Center, Building 45




  • E. P. Horn
  • C. Padilla
  • N. Manian
  • D. L. Putnick
  • M. H. Bornstein


Maternal depression has deleterious effects on child development. This study examines the effects of maternal depression, diagnosed at 5 months postpartum but remitted by 15 months, on later language development at 15 and 24 months. Language ability of toddlers was assessed using the Reynell Developmental Language Scales (Reynell & Huntley, 1985), an experimenter evaluation, and the MacArthur Communicative Developmental Inventory, a questionnaire completed by mothers. Preliminary analyses of variance revealed a main effect of child age and an interaction between child age and depressed group. While language comprehension of children of nondepressed mothers increased over time, language comprehension of children of depressed mothers stayed the same. Thus, from 15 to 24 months, children with depressed mothers did not gain in language comprehension as compared to their peers without depressed mothers. According to experimenter and maternal report, children with depressed and nondepressed mothers increased language expression abilities across time. Our next step in this analysis will be to account for this difference in language development by looking at maternal assessments, such as the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-R; Form L; Dunn & Dunn, 1981), which was used to evaluate maternal verbal IQ.

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