Dr. Phyllis Zelkowitz

Dr. Phyllis Zelkowitz EdD

Institute of Community & Family Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital

Dr. Zelkowitz is Director of Research in the Psychiatry Research Division of the Jewish General Hospital. She has conducted funded research on developmental outcome in very low birthweight (VLBW) infants, postpartum depression and its effects on family functioning and risk factors for borderline pathology in mothers and children. She has examined cultural factors related to parenting attitudes and behaviour among parents of VLBW children, and risk factors for postpartum depression in immigrant women. Her work takes both individual and contextual factors into account when evaluating risk and adopts a family focus, specifically including fathers in data collection. The ultimate aim of her work with premature infants, depressed childbearing women, and children with borderline pathology is to find ways to identify high risk individuals, in order to develop appropriate interventions. For example, the results of her longitudinal study of developmental outcome in very low birthweight infants suggests that parental anxiety and interactive behaviour in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit predict internalizing problems and cognitive delay in the children at age 2. These results permit the identification of high-risk parent-infant dyads and have led to the development of an intervention to reduce maternal anxiety to promote more responsive parenting behaviour. This intervention is currently being pilot-tested in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of this hospital.

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