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Neuropsychiatrie de l'Enfance et de l'adolescence
Volume 60, n° 5S
page 69 (juillet 2012)
Doi : 10.1016/j.neurenf.2012.05.270

Disturbances in mother–infant interaction in the wake of maternal traumatic stress

D.S. Schechter
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland 

Objectives .– To test the hypothesis that violence-exposed mothers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will in comparison to non-PTSD controls show neurophysiologic response-patterns associated with hypervigilance to danger in reaction to separation from their toddler.

Methods .– Participants included mothers (n =54) of toddlers ages 12 to 48 months recruited from community pediatric clinics. Dyads then participated in a videotaped protocol involving free- and structured-play, and separation-reunions, during which mothers were connected to a Holter-monitor. Eleven PTSD mothers and 9 non-PTSD mothers returned for fMRI scanning during which they watched videos of their children during separation and play.

Results .– PTSD mothers differed from non-PTSD mothers, showing lower heart-rates (HR), a ratio of high-frequency heart-rate variability change and HR suggestive of a delayed, co-activated state, and a lack of medial prefrontal cortical activation in response to separation-stimuli.

Conclusion .– PTSD-mothers showed distinct neurophysiologic activation patterns of response to an interpersonal stressor that suggest increased hypervigilance and consequent impairment of engagement in mutual emotion regulation. Clinical implications will be discussed.

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© 2012  Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.
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