Is there a Link between Maternal Depression & Child Mental Health?

Research Paper Title

Prevalence of mental health problems in preschoolers and the impact of maternal depression.

Background

A large number of children of depressed mothers have one or more mental disorders.

This study aimed to evaluate the impact of maternal depression on the mental health of 4-5-year-old children of adolescent mothers, according to the hypotheses generated from the model of accumulation.

Methods

Between October 2009 and March 2011, all pregnant adolescents who received prenatal care from the public health system in Pelotas (southern Brazil) were invited to participate in the study and have been prospectively followed.

Of these individuals, 413 participants were evaluated in the postpartum period and when the child was 2-3 years old and 4-5 years old (current stage).

The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire was used to assess mental health problems in children, and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI)-Plus version was used to assess maternal depression.

The researchers applied a structured modelling approach to examine the relations between three different hypothesized life course models (accumulation, critical period, and mobility) and maternal depression.

After selecting the most appropriate model, they used a logistic regression analysis to assess the effect of depression on mental health problems in 4-5-year-old children of adolescent mothers. They also used the Chi square test to estimate the prevalence of mental health problems in 4-5-year-old children.

Results

The longer the time of exposure to maternal depression, the greater the probability that the child would present behavioural problems.

Conclusions

Investments in strategies to prevent mental disorders beginning in the gestational period are important.

Reference

Pires, A.J., de Matos, M.B., Scholl, C.C., Trettim, J.P., Coelho, F.T., da Cunha Coelho, F.M., Pinheiro, K.A.T., Pinheiro, R.T. & Queveedo, L. (2020) Prevalence of mental health problems in preschoolers and the impact of maternal depression. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 29(5), pp.605-616. doi: 10.1007/s00787-019-01381-x. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

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