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Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Print version ISSN 2237-6089


FALCETO, Olga Garcia; GIUGLIANI, Elsa R. J.  and  FERNANDES, Carmen Luiza C.. Problematic parent-infant relationships in two-parent families: prevalence and risk factors in a Brazilian neighborhood. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. [online]. 2012, vol.34, n.3, pp.139-146. ISSN 2237-6089.

Introduction: Although the quality of parent-child relationships is known to be associated with the offspring's mental health, little is known about the prevalence of problematic relationships in this scenario. This cross-sectional study aims to investigate the prevalence and risk factors of different types of early parent-infant relationships in a Brazilian population group. Methods: During 1 year, all families (n = 230) from an urban community of Porto Alegre, southern Brazil, with 4-month-old infants born in public hospitals were identified, and 148 were fully investigated by two family therapists. This study describes data on the 116 infants with two-parent families. Demographic, obstetric, and relational variables were collected through questionnaires and scales (Parent-Infant Relationship Global Assessment Scale, Global Assessment of Relational Functioning, and Self-Report Questionnaire). Prevalence ratios were calculated, and Poisson regression with robust variance was performed to adjust for covariates. Results: Almost 10% of mothers and 12% of fathers showed at least a significantly perturbed relationship with their 4-month-old infants. Inadequate mother-infant bonding coincided with evidence of paternal mental disorder, poor maternal social network, and discontinuation of breastfeeding at 4 months. A problematic father-infant relationship was associated with a dysfunctional couple relationship and with low infant birth weight. Conclusions: There is a high prevalence of early parent-child relationship problems, suggesting a need for health system interventions. Parent-infant relational problems are prevalent very early in life and more associated with other relational problems than with socioeconomic burden.

Keywords : Parent-infant problematic relationship; parenting; family relationship; child development; prevalence; relational problems.

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