Maternal depression and natural disaster-related stress may affect infants’ temperament
A new Infant Mental Health Journal study demonstrates that prenatal maternal depression has important consequences for infant temperament. Furthermore, the negative impact of prenatal maternal depression appeared to be magnified when pregnant women lived through Superstorm Sandy.
The study analyzed data on 310 mother-child dyads, with 64 percent of women being pregnant prior to Sandy and 36 percent being pregnant during Sandy. Compared with other infants, infants born to women with prenatal depression were more likely to experience greater distress, greater fear, lower smiling and laughter, lower high- and low-pleasure seeking, lower soothability, slower falling reactivity, lower cuddliness, and greater sadness at six months of age. These effects were amplified when women were pregnant during Superstorm Sandy…
After the storm
Once-in-a-century’ storms, tsunamis and earthquakes now threaten life and resources around the world on a regular basis. Disasters upend civic life and threaten the public order, but disaster-relief operations often double as contests over the authority of the state to govern. Recent histories of disaster relief in developing nations reveal that claims about scientific knowledge and technological sophistication hold the key to defending political authority in the Anthropocene.
Disasters live in public memory and the historical record through narratives that tell us whom to blame, how to survive, and who can best answer these questions. Building these narratives is part of the work of disaster management, a specialised field whose experts often depict their mandate as a perennial cycle characterised by successive phases of preparedness, post-disaster relief and recovery and, finally, reconstruction, a phase that sets up the next round of preparedness efforts.
Popular reporting about disasters in poorer and developing countries usually…