Depressed Moms Take Longer To Respond To Children, Study Shows

In Education

According to recent research conducted at the University of Missouri, mothers suffering from depression have a tendency to respond more slowly during interactive conversations with their children. The study lays the groundwork for future investigations aimed at determining whether the delayed response time has any negative consequences on the children’s language acquisition and academic or vocabulary achievements in the long run.

Depressed mothers have a time-lapse in interactions with their child

In the Early Head Start program, which is a government initiative for the development of children Assistant professor at the MU School of Health Professions Nicholas Smith, and his team analyzed audio recordings of over 100 families in the government-sponsored Early Head Start initiative for the development of children from underprivileged families. The team noted the time lapse between the responses of mothers and their children during conversations, particularly in cases where the mothers were coping with depression.

According to Smith, as the child grows, the time gap between responses tends to decrease for mother-child interactions, and the timing of the mother’s response often predicts the timing of the child’s response and vice versa. This synchronization between mothers and children was evident, as mothers who were slow to respond often had children who were slow to respond, while mothers who responded quickly had children who were also quick to respond. The study also revealed that depressed mothers took more time to respond to their children compared to non-depressed mothers.

Study compared response time in the interaction between mothers and child

The study compared the response time of dialogue between mothers and their children at 14 and 36 months old using audio recordings. The researcher plans to further study the same individuals when they are in pre-kindergarten and fifth grade to examine the long-term effects of the dialogue response timing on the children’s development.  Researchers sought to understand the mechanisms and factors that influence mother-child interaction. The team aims to identify the factors that lead to successful development outcomes and those that inhibit them. With this understanding, they can better identify at-risk children and develop targeted interventions to benefit them.

Mobile Sliding Menu