Maternal-Fetal Attachment and Social-Emotional Development in Infants at 3 Months of Age: A Population-Based Study in Southern Brazil


  • Bárbara Borges Rubin
  • Jéssica Puchalski Trettim
  • Carolina Coelho Scholl
  • Fernanda Teixeira Coelho
  • Elisa Freire Puccinelli
  • Mariana Bonati de Matos
  • Gabriele Ghisleni
  • Ricardo Tavares Pinheiro
  • Luciana de Avila Quevedo


Studies relate Maternal-Fetal Attachment (MFA) to delays in child development, however, the relationship with the social-emotional development is still unclear. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the association between MFA and social-emotional development in infants at 3 months old, in a population-based sample in southern Brazil. This was a follow-up study corresponding to second and third wave of a population-based cohort study with pregnant women who were living in Pelotas (Southern Brazil). Social-emotional development was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development - Third Edition (BSID-III) and MFA was measured with the Maternal-Fetal Attachment Scale (MFAS). The sample consisted of 702 mother-infant dyads. In the adjusted analysis, MFA was a predictor of social-emotional development, even when controlled for sociodemographic, maternal mental health and infant characteristics. Thus, with each increase to one point in the MFA score, there was an increase of β = 0.14, 95% CI [0.05, 0.23] in the social-emotional development score. These findings highlight the importance of MFA in early child development. Thus, infants with positive experiences of affection since the gestational period will be able to develop positive social and emotional health.