Associations between mother-preschooler attachment and maternal depression symptoms: A systematic review and meta-analysis
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The current study aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze concurrent and longitudinal associations between maternal depression symptoms and mother-child attachment during the preschool period (aged 2 to 7 years) as assessed using the coding systems by Cassidy and Marvin (1992) and Main and Cassidy (1988). The review was pre-registered with PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews; Registration number CRD42017073417) and was conducted in accordance with PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. A total of 7,969 records were screened and 18 articles were deemed as eligible for inclusion in the review. Studies were reviewed using qualitative synthesis techniques and, where appropriate, meta-analysis. Qualitative synthesis indicated that mothers of disorganized/controlling children most consistently reported the highest levels of depressive symptoms, both concurrently and longitudinally. The association between disorganized/controlling child attachment and concurrent maternal depressive symptoms was significant (n = 1,787; g = 0.27, 95% CI [0.13,0.40]), and was not moderated by sample type, child gender, or risk of bias. Findings of a relationship between child attachment insecurity and maternal depressive symptoms must be qualified due to significant within-study heterogeneity and publication bias. Results suggest that maternal depressive symptoms may confer risk for disorganized/controlling attachment during the preschool period.
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