The efficacy of Toddler-Parent Psychotherapy for fostering cognitive development in offspring of depressed mothers

Dante Cicchetti, Fred A. Rogosch, Sheree L. Toth

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188 Scopus citations


The efficacy of Toddler-Parent Psychotherapy (TPP) as a preventive intervention for fostering cognitive development in the offspring of depressed mothers was evaluated. Mothers with major depressive disorder and their toddlers were randomly assigned to TPP (n = 43) or to a nonintervention group (n = 54) and compared to a control group (n = 61) of women with no current or past mental disorder. At baseline (age 20 months), the groups did not differ on the Bayley Mental Development Index. At post-intervention follow-up (age 3 years), a relative decline in IQ was found in the depressed nonintervention group, whereas the depressed intervention and the normal control groups continued to be equivalent, with higher WPPSI-R Full Scale and Verbal IQs. The worst outcome was found among nonintervention children whose mothers had subsequent depressive episodes. The results confirm the developmental risks faced by offspring of depressed mothers and support the efficacy of the preventive intervention in safeguarding successful cognitive development in at-risk youngsters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This investigation was supported through a grant and scientific MERIT award from the Prevention Research Branch (MH45027) of the National Institute of Mental Health. We acknowledge the efforts of the research assistants and therapists who helped to facilitate this work. We are extremely grateful to Alicia Lieberman for her help in implementing the preventive intervention. Finally, we also thank the children and families who participated in this project.


  • Cognitive development
  • Maternal depression
  • Prevention
  • Toddler-parent psychotherapy


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