The primary aim of this application is to investigate resilient profiles in low-income Mexican American (MA) mothers. The transition to motherhood can be an emotionally and physically complex time for women, particularly in the context of a stressful low-income environment. Although most low-income women navigate this transition well, a significant number of mothers develop moderate to severe depressive symptoms. Studies estimate postpartum depression (PPD) to be more prevalent in MA mothers, ranging from 21-53%, compared to 10-15% in other samples of postpartum women. PPD can have long-term negative consequences for both mother and infant, affecting maternal physical and mental health and infant cognitive development, physiology and behavior. Health disparities in the prevalence of PPD highlight an urgent need to examine cultural and population specific pathways that buffer against the negative effects of PPD. The transition to motherhood is a critical time to examine resilient processes, which may alleviate the duration or severity of depressive symptoms during the postpartum period. The proposed research will analyze profiles of resilience during the prenatal period. In alignment with current resilience theories, several domains of resilience will be investigated including psychological, social, and cultural adherence (e.g. maintaining specific cultural traditions). Longitudinal development and recovery from depressive symptoms during the early postpartum period will be predicted by the prenatal resilient profiles. Data will be drawn from a larger longitudinal study which investigates behavioral, physiological, and emotional co regulatory processes in MA infants and their mothers. Measurements include maternal reports of self-esteem, maternal optimism, personal mastery, coping efficacy, social support, acculturation, traditional gender roles, families, and cultural postpartum practices. The resulting data will provide a unique opportunity to explore resilient processes in a sample of low-income MA mothers, who are part of an under researched population, the fastest growing ethnic minority group, and have the highest birth rate in the United States, presenting a significant public health concern.

Public Health Relevance

Low-Income Mexican American women are part of an under researched population that experience higher rates of postpartum depression (PPD) compared to middle-class Caucasian women. The extant literature on PPD has established the relations between PPD and negative maternal and infant outcomes, but few studies have examined resilience factors that may prevent the development of or lead to a quicker recovery from PPD, despite facing considerable environmental stressors. Longitudinal investigations of individual profiles associated with a resilient response to the challenges of new motherhood are needed to inform culturally sensitive prevention and intervention programs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F11-L (20))
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Rubio, Mercedes
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Arizona State University-Tempe Campus
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Gress-Smith, Jenna L; Roubinov, Danielle S; Tanaka, Rika et al. (2013) Prenatal expectations in Mexican American women: development of a culturally sensitive measure. Arch Womens Ment Health 16:303-14