Growth modeling was used to examine the developmental trajectory of infant temperamental fear with maternal fear and depressive symptoms as predictors of infant fearfulness and change in infant fear predicting toddler anxiety symptoms. In Study 1, a sample of 158 mothers reported their own depressive symptoms and fear when their children were 4 months of age and infant fearfulness at 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 months. Maternal symptoms of depression predicted steeper increases in infant fearfulness over time (z = 2.06, p < .05), with high initial infant fear and steeper increases in fear (intercept, z = 2.32, p < .05, and slope, z = 1.88, p < .05) predicting more severe toddler anxiety symptoms. In Study 2, an independent sample of 134 mothers completed measures of maternal depression and fear when the infants were 4 months old, and standardized laboratory observations of infant fear were made at 8, 10, and 12 months. Consistent with Study 1, maternal depression accounted for change in fearfulness (z = 2.30, p < .05), with more frequent and more severe maternal symptoms leading to greater increases in infant fear and increases in fearfulness z = 2.08, p < .05) leading to more problematic toddler anxiety. The implications and contributions of these findings are discussed in terms of methodology, fear development, and developmental psychopathology.
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