Maternal depression is one of the most common complications during and after pregnancy. It is experienced by approximately 20% of new mothers and nearly 30% of low income mothers in Wisconsin. Maternal depression is not only harmful to mothers, but also poses risks to the infants’ health and development. Early intervention can break this cycle of depression and often co-occurring trauma and stress; reduce suffering; increase sensitivity and responsiveness in mother-infant relationships; increase healthy family functioning and decrease exposure of their infants to recurring maternal depressive episodes and risk for developmental delays and subsequent psychopathology. Integrated health care, public health, and community-based strategies are necessary to ensure high-risk mothers benefit from evidence-based support and interventions.

The Core Research Project for this center, “Addressing Postpartum Depression in Wisconsin Home Visiting Programs,” uses a novel community-based approach developed by Dr. Roseanne Clark to reduce the impact of maternal depression. This project will be led by Multiple Principal Investigators (MPIs) Dr. Clark and Dr. Jane Mahoney. Working closely with families and UWPRC stakeholders, the project will adapt the Mother-Infant Therapy Group (M-ITG), an effective intervention that improves maternal depression symptoms and supports infant attachment, for effective, feasible, and sustainable implementation within home visiting programs. This preventive intervention has been developed over decades by Dr. Clark to reduce the risks of maternal depression on two generations.