Mother–infant interaction in schizophrenia: Transmitting risk or resilience? A systematic review of the literature

Kirstine Agnete Davidsen, Susanne Harder, Angus Macbeth, Jenna-Marie Lundy, Andrew Gumley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose The parent–infant relationship is an important context for identifying very early risk and resilience factors and targets for the development of preventative interven- tions. The aim of this study was to systematically review studies investigating the early caregiver–infant relationship and attachment in offspring of parents with schizophrenia. Methods We searched computerized databases for rele- vant articles investigating the relationship between early caregiver–infant relationship and outcomes for offspring of a caregiver with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Studies were assessed for risk of bias.
Results We identified 27 studies derived from 10 cohorts, comprising 208 women diagnosed with schizophrenia, 71 with other psychoses, 203 women with depression, 59 women with mania/bipolar disorder, 40 with personality disorder, 8 with unspecified mental disorders and 119 non-psychiatric controls. There was some evidence to support disturbances in maternal behaviour amongst those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and there was more limited evidence of dis- turbances in infant behaviour and mutuality of interaction. Conclusions Further research should investigate both sources of resilience and risk in the development of off- spring of parents with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and psychosis. Given the lack of specificity observed in this review, these studies should also include maternal affective disorders including depressive and bipolar disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1785–1798
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number12
Early online date10 Oct 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Oct 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mother-infant interactions
  • schizophrenia
  • resilience
  • risk factors
  • transmission


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