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What makes children resilient? Investigating the mechanisms of resilience in children whose mothers were postnatally depressed

Principal investigator
Maria Quigley (NPEU)
Paul Ramchandani (University of Oxford), Alan Stein (University of Oxford), Mina Fazel (University of Oxford), Jonathan Evans (University of Bristol), Ron Gray (NPEU (Former member)), Maggie Redshaw (NPEU (Former member))
Child health and development, Resilience, Socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities
DH - Policy Research Programme
Start year
End year
NPEU Contact
Maria Quigley


Children born to depressed mothers and to mothers who develop postnatal depression are at increased risk of adverse developmental outcomes in both the short- and long-term. Furthermore, early intervention aimed at improving the quality of maternal care in the early years is considered critical to improving later outcome. However, it remains unclear exactly when to intervene or in what way.

Some children born to depressed mothers achieve comparatively good outcomes, a phenomenon termed resilience. By investigating the mechanisms leading to resilience in the children of depressed mothers we may learn more about where to target interventions which can subsequently be evaluated in trials.


  1. To specify and investigate the processes involved in childhood resilience at different ages with respect to different outcomes in health, education, family and social functioning.
  2. To translate these findings into a policy-relevant framework of interventions which may help to build resilience.


Using longitudinal data from the ALSPAC study we are investigating the factors (psychological, social, familial, environmental and biological) which are associated with good outcomes (resilience) as opposed to poor outcomes in children with various degrees of disadvantage.In the first stage of the project we have identified some key factors involved in resilience in the second stage we are investigating the role of fathers in more detail. We aim to translate these findings into a framework of potentially relevant interventions which could be used to inform or design interventions to help build resilience. This will be aided by a consensus process using an expert advisory group.


Journal Articles