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March 23, 2007
Mothers with Schizophrenia; Their Babies Need Additional Help
When a mother has schizophrenia, there is a greater risk for a poorer relationship between her and her infant - and that poor relationship is linked to greater mental health problems for the child later in life. A study in the Cambridge Journals of Psychological Medicine showed that mothers with schizophrenia and their infants are more likely to have poorer interactions with each other than the mothers with affective disorders and their infants.
The mothers with schizophrenia showed less maternal sensitivity and responsiveness with their babies, while their babies, in turn, exhibited more avoidance behavior - showing less engagement with their mother and with their environment. Research now indicates that this warm, sensitive, responsive & nurturing parenting approach is important for the healthy development of the brain, and emotional development, of the child.
In this study, the poor mother-infant interaction did not seem to correlate with the family's social circumstances, the amount of medication the mother was on, or even with how severe the mother's illness was.
PsychiatryMatters.MD reports on this study, saying that:
Mothers with schizophrenia were significantly less warm and less accepting than mothers with affective disorder. Moreover, the infants of mothers with schizophrenia were significantly more avoidant, and also significantly less communicative, less engaged with the environment, and less lively than those of mothers with affective disorders.
It is unknown whether the mothers' care and attachment to their babies are being adversely affected by the infants' behaviors (lack of engagement) or if the infants' behaviors are the result of being adversely affected by the mothers' detachment from the baby, or both.
The study's researchers, Ming Wai Wan (University of Manchester, UK) and colleagues, warn that this poor interaction between the babies and mothers could have long-lasting effects on how the child interacts in future relationships and how socially adjusted they are as they grow older.
They suggest that specific interventions need to be developed in order to improve the interactions between the mother and baby, with the mother learning techniques to enhance their relationship.
"Interventions should focus on improving maternal sensitivity and maternal responsiveness, infant stimulation, and mutual enjoyment."
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at March 23, 2007 07:50 AM
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