Dual Parental Psychobiology Affects Parenting, Infant Stress, and Parental Mood

Project: Research project

Project Details


Depression during the postpartum period is common for both mothers (16%) and fathers (10.4%). Postpartum depression is a major public health concern for several reasons, including the risk for infant developmental outcomes, emotional health and future child mental health problems. An in-depth parallel examination of both fathers’ and mothers’ biological, social, and
psychological experiences in relation to parent-infant interactions and infant stress has not been conducted previously. The aim of this study is to examine the longitudinal impact of maternal/paternal gonadal (testosterone) and stress (cortisol) hormones, shared/unshared socio-environmental factors, and maternal/paternal postpartum depression when predicting parent-infant interactions, and infant stress. Adult, partnered mothers and fathers will be recruited from Northwestern Medicine’s Obstetrics and Gynecology department. Assessments will be conducted at two time points: 1 month and 6 months postpartum. Couples who consent to participate will complete diagnostic interviews, online socio-environmental measures, a videotaped parent-infant interaction assessment, and provide salivary samples in order to assess hormone levels. Parents’ mood and unique experiences are expected to be associated with parent-infant interactions and infant stress. The findings from this study will inform a larger, NICHD K23 translational research grant application and will have direct implications for clinical treatment to improve infant health.
Effective start/end date1/1/1512/31/17


  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH Master #5 FE 3/9/15)


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