Chronicity, severity, and timing of maternal depressive symptoms: Relationships with child outcomes at age 5. Developmental Psychology, 36(6), 759-766

Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.
Developmental Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.21). 12/2000; 36(6):759-66. DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.36.6.759
Source: PubMed


The relationships between severity, chronicity, and timing of maternal depressive symptoms and child outcomes were examined in a cohort of 4,953 children. Mothers provided self-reports of depressive symptoms during pregnancy, immediately postpartum, and when the child was 6 months old and 5 years old. At the age 5 follow-up, mothers reported on children's behavior and children completed a receptive vocabulary test. Results suggest that both the severity and the chronicity of maternal depressive symptoms are related to more behavior problems and lower vocabulary scores in children. The interaction of severity and chronicity of maternal depressive symptoms was significantly related to higher levels of child behavior problems. Timing of maternal symptoms was not significantly related to child vocabulary scores, but more recent reports of maternal depressive symptoms were associated with higher rates of child behavior problems.

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    • "Moreover, depression may vary in length from days to months, and it may be persistent or episodic, recurrent or non-recurrent. Several studies have examined the association between chronicity and severity of maternal depression and offspring diagnoses and found that both parameters are associated with later adverse child outcomes, albeit in different ways (Brennan et al. 2000; Campbell et al. 2004; Hammen and Brennan 2003). For example, Hammen and Brennan (2003) found that chronicity of maternal depression during the first 10 years of a child's life was associated more with non-depressive diagnostic outcomes than was severity, whereas severity of maternal depression contributed more to children's risk for depression than did chronicity. "
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    • "Moreover, monolingual children of depressed mothers demonstrate decreased language abilities from early ages. Between ages 1 and 5 years, this group of children shows low language abilities overall and slower growth over time when compared to children whose mothers are not depressed (Brennan et al., 2000; Cox, Puckering, Pound, & Mills, 1987; Horwitz et al., 2003; Murray, 1992; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD] Early Child Care Research Network, 1999; Pan, Rowe, Singer, & Snow, 2005). For example, Pan et al. (2005) found that children of depressed mothers had lower vocabulary growth trajectories than children of nondepressed mothers from 1 to 3 years of age. "
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    • "Acceptable and effective depression treatments are needed to prevent negative long-term effects on the mother and child (Brennan et al. 2000, Elgar et al. 2003, Mayberry et al. 2007, Reay et al. 2011, Dix & Yan 2014) and address the higher postpartum depression rate among mothers in rural areas (Johnstone et al. 2001, Villegas et al. 2011). Unfortunately mothers are less likely to accept established depression treatments such as medication and interpersonal therapies (Dennis & Hodnett 2007). "
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