Mother-To-Infant Bonding Disorder, but not Depression, 5 days After Delivery is a Risk Factor For Neonate Emotional Abuse: A Study in Japanese Mothers of 1-Month Olds

Yukiko Ohashi1, 2, Kyoko Sakanashi3, Tomoko Tanaka4, Toshinori Kitamura1, 5, *
1 Kitamura Institute of Mental Health Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
2 Department of Nursing, Faculty of Health Science Technology, Bunkyo Gakuin University, Japan
3 Department of Women’s Health/Mother-Child Nursing, Faculty of Life Science, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan
4 Aso Health Center, Kumamoto Prefecture, Aso, Japan
5 Department of Psychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan

© Ohashi et al; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Kitamura Institute of Mental Health Tokyo, Flat A, Riverlandhouse Tomigaya, 2-26-3, Tomigaya, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Tel: 81-3-5738-8371; E-mail:



Despite its clinical and public policy-making importance, neonatal abuse has been only minimally studied.


To identify predictors of mothers’ emotional abuse towards their infants at 1 month after childbirth.


We studied a cohort of 252 women at three time points: late pregnancy and 5 days and 1 month after childbirth. At each time point, the women were administered a set of questionnaires about their depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), bonding towards the foetus or neonate (Maternal Antenatal Attachment Scale and Postnatal Bonding Questionnaire, respectively), and, at 1 month after childbirth, emotional abuse (Conflict Tactic Scale).


Structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis revealed that neonatal emotional abuse was predicted by bonding difficulties at 5 days after childbirth but not by depression at that time point.


Assessment for maternal bonding problems in the early post-natal period should be routinely performed by perinatal health professionals.

Keywords: Bonding Disorder, Depression, Neonatal Abuse, Maternal Response to the Pregnancy, SEM.