Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Donald A. Williamson


In recent years, there have been a few reports of the relationship between eating disorders in mothers and the psychological adjustment of their children. Most of these reports have been based upon anecdotal case studies, however a wide range of prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal complications, including behavioral and feeding difficulties in children of these mothers has been described. This study advanced research in this area by incorporating both normal and depression comparison groups. The relationship between group membership of 65 mothers and responses on several child and parent dependent variables was evaluated by having mothers complete self-report measures. Overall it appears that mothers with eating disorders do not have children who evidence significant eating and behavioral difficulties in early to late childhood, though these mothers described experiencing a high rate of pregnancy and birth complications, high parenting stress, and symptoms of clinical depression. Significant behavior problems were, however, identified in children of mothers in the depression group. Results are discussed in light of protective factors (i.e., socioeconomic status, social support) which may have buffered the effects of maternal psychopathology in children of mothers with eating disorders, given that mothers in the depression group reported lower social support and parental satisfaction when compared with mothers in the other groups. Studies to replicate these findings will be needed to clarify the relationship among potential mediating factors.