Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nursing Science

Research Advisor

Joyce Carolyn Graff, PhD


Ann Cashion, PhD; Karen Derefinko, PhD; Tamekia Jones, PhD; Nikki Polis, PhD; Janet Tucker, PhD; Qi Zhao, PhD


Childhood Obesity; Childhood Overweight; Maternal feeding behaviors, Maternal feeding beliefs, Mediation, Postpartum Depression


Purpose. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a mental condition that significantly affects 10% to 25% of women within the first year after the birth of their child. The mother-infant relationship is key to child growth. Previous studies have shown that PPD has a detrimental effect on children’s physical and psychological well-being as it affects the child through the mother’s parenting behavior. Depressed mothers show a lack of engagement with their children, which could extend to feeding practices influencing weight gain. The prevalence and severity of childhood overweight and obesity is a global public health problem. An increase in weight gain in infancy can be the initiation of childhood and adult overweight and obesity. We investigated the association between postpartum depression and child overweight and obesity, evaluating maternal feeding practices and beliefs as mediating factors in this relationship. Methods. We performed a secondary analysis on data from 1,425 mother/child dyads from the Conditions Affecting Neurocognitive Development and Learning in Early Childhood (CANDLE) study that enrolled healthy pregnant women in Shelby County, Tennessee, from 2006 through 2011. We performed logistic regression analysis to investigate the relationship between PPD and child BMI trajectories from birth to 4-6 years, and child overweight and obesity at years 1, 2, 3, 4 – 6; multiple linear regression to investigate the relationship between PPD measured at 4 weeks and maternal feeding behaviors and beliefs as measured by the Infant Feeding Questionnaire (IFQ); and causal mediation analysis to investigate the association between PPD, maternal feeding behaviors and beliefs, and child overweight and obesity.

Declaration of Authorship

Declaration of Authorship is included in the supplemental files.




2022-020-Harrison-DOA.pdf (170 kB)
Declaration of Authorship