Paternal history of depression or anxiety disorder and infant–father attachment

Nicole Lucassen*, Anne Tharner, Peter Prinzie, Frank C. Verhulst, Joran Jongerling, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn, Henning Tiemeier

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Paternal depression and anxiety are important risk factors for a problematic parent–child relationship and subsequent child development. We explored the association between paternal history of depression and anxiety disorder and infant–father attachment security, taking into account the possible mediating roles of sensitivity and perceived family stress. In a sample of 94 infant–father dyads, a structured diagnostic interview and a questionnaire on family stress were administered during pregnancy. Paternal sensitivity was observed using the Ainsworth coding scales, and infant–father attachment was observed in the strange situation procedure during a lab visit at 14 months. Linear regression models were used to examine the association of father's lifetime depression or anxiety with the continuous scales for infant–father attachment security and disorganization. Father's history of depression or anxiety disorder was not significantly related to infant–father attachment security in the total sample. Interestingly, daughters of fathers with a history of depression or anxiety had higher scores on attachment security than daughters of fathers without this diagnosis. Perceived family stress and paternal sensitivity were not significant mediators. We discuss these unexpected findings, suggesting alternative mechanisms for how paternal vulnerability to depression or anxiety may be associated with the infant–father attachment relationship. Highlights: We examine the association between paternal history of depression and anxiety disorder and infant-father attachment security. In 94 infant-father dyads, a structured diagnostic interview was administered and infant-father attachment was observed in the Strange Situation Procedure. Daughters of fathers with a psychiatric history had higher scores on attachment security. Mechanisms of paternal vulnerability are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2070
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInfant and Child Development
Volume27
Issue number2
Early online date29 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

Funding

Erasmus Medical Center and Erasmus University Rotterdam; Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw); Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Grant/Award Number: 452‐04‐306, 453‐09‐003, 017.106.370; Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science; Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Grant/ Award Number: 024.001.003 The Generation R Study is conducted by the Erasmus Medical Center in close collaboration with the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of Law and Faculty of Social Sciences, the Municipal Health Service Rotterdam area, Rotterdam, the Rotterdam Homecare Foundation, Rotterdam, and the Stichting Trombosedienst & Artsenlaboratorium Rijnmond (STAR), Rotterdam. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of general practitioners, hospitals, midwives, and pharmacies in Rotterdam. This work was supported by the Erasmus Medical Center and Erasmus University Rotterdam; and the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw); and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, under Grant 452‐04‐306 (VIDI) and under Grant 453‐09‐003 (VICI) to M. J. B. K.; and under Grant 017.106.370 (VIDI) to H. T.; and SPINOZA prize to M. H. v. IJ. M. J. B. K., H. T. and M. H. v. IJ. are member of the Consortium on Individual Development (CID) that is funded through the Gravitation program of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO, under Grant 024.001.003).

FundersFunder number
Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme669249
ZonMw
Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam
Erasmus Medisch Centrum
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek453‐09‐003, 024.001.003, 452‐04‐306, 017.106.370

    Keywords

    • anxiety
    • depression
    • family stress
    • infant-father attachment
    • sensitivity

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