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Trajectories of maternal depression over 7 years: Relations with child psychophysiology and behavior and role of contextual risks

University of Washington, USA.
Development and Psychopathology (Impact Factor: 4.89). 02/2008; 20(1):55-77. DOI: 10.1017/S0954579408000035
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study examines the relation between the longitudinal course of maternal depression during the child's early life and children's psychophysiology and behavior at age 6.5 years. One hundred fifty-nine children of depressed and nondepressed mothers were followed from infancy through age 6.5 years. Growth mixture modeling was used to identify classes of depressed mothers based on the longitudinal course of the mother's depression. School-aged children of chronically depressed mothers were found to have elevated externalizing behavior problems, decreased social competence, reduced frontal brain activation (EEG power), and higher respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity. Children of mothers with decreasing and stable mild depression were found to have increased hyperactivity and attention problems compared to children of nondepressed mothers. Contextual risk factors were found to mediate the relation between maternal depression and child behavioral outcomes.

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    ABSTRACT: Few studies have addressed the course and severity of maternal depression and its effects on child psychiatric disorders from a longitudinal perspective. This study aimed to identify longitudinal patterns of maternal depression and to evaluate whether distinct depression trajectories predict particular psychiatric disorders in offspring. Cohort of 4231 births followed-up in the city of Pelotas, Brazil. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 3, 12, 24 and 48 months and 6 years after delivery. Psychiatric disorders in 6-year-old children were evaluated through the development and well-being assessment (DAWBA) instrument. Trajectories of maternal depression were calculated using a group-based modelling approach. We identified five trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms: a "low" trajectory (34.8%), a "moderate low" (40.9%), a "increasing" (9.0%), a "decreasing" (9.9%), and a "high-chronic" trajectory (5.4%). The probability of children having any psychiatric disorder, as well as both internalizing and externalizing problems, increased as we moved from the "low" to the "high-chronic" trajectory. These differences were not explained by maternal and child characteristics examined in multivariate analyses. Data on maternal depression at 3-months was available on only a sub-sample. In addition, we had to rely on maternal report of child's behavior alone. The study revealed an additive effect on child outcome of maternal depression over time. We identified a group of mothers with chronic and severe symptoms of depression throughout the first six years of the child life and for this group child psychiatric outcome was particularly compromised. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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