Maternal Depression, Paternal Psychopathology, and Toddlers' Behavior Problems

Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology (Impact Factor: 1.92). 02/2009; 38(1):48-61. DOI: 10.1080/15374410802575362
Source: PubMed


This article examined the effects of maternal depression during the postpartum period (Time 1) on the later behavior problems of toddlers (Time 3) and tested if this relationship was moderated by paternal psychopathology during toddlers' lives and/or mediated by maternal parenting behavior observed during mother-child interaction (Time 2). Of the 101 mothers who participated in this longitudinal study with their toddlers, 51 had never experienced an episode of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 50 had experienced an episode of MDD during the first 18 months of their toddlers' lives. Maternal depression at Time 1 was significantly associated with toddlers' externalizing and internalizing behavior problems only when paternal psychopathology was present. As predicted, maternal negativity at Time 2 was found to mediate the relationship between maternal depression at Time 1 and toddlers' externalizing behavior problems at Time 3.

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    • "More research is needed to examine the mechanism underlying these relations. A number of studies suggest that parenting mediates the relation between maternal psychopathology and child outcome (e.g., Dietz et al. 2009), and a few studies suggest that this may be true for fathers as well (e.g., Paulson et al. 2009), though findings have been mixed (Eiden et al. 2007). In addition, evidence that ADHD places adults at risk for depression (Ramsay and Rostain 2008) together with evidence that depression is associated with poor child outcome (e.g., Eiden et al. 2007) suggests that depression may mediate the relation between paternal ADHD symptoms and child outcome. "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study examined the role of early fathering in subsequent trajectories of social emotional and academic functioning of preschool children with behavior problems. Participants were 128 preschool-aged children (73 boys, 55 girls) with behavior problems whose biological fathers took part in a longitudinal study. Children were 3 years of age at the beginning of the study and were assessed annually for 3 years. Early paternal depressive symptoms predicted many aspects of children's outcome 3 years later, including externalizing and internalizing problems, social skills deficits, and lower cognitive and academic functioning, and predicted changes in children's externalizing, internalizing, and social problems across the preschool years. Paternal socioeconomic status (SES) also consistently predicted children's later functioning across these domains. Furthermore, self-reported paternal attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and laxness, as well as observed frequent commands were associated with later externalizing problems in children. Paternal depressive symptoms and laxness mediated the relation between paternal ADHD symptoms and child functioning. Results suggest that aspects of early father functioning play an important role in the psychosocial, cognitive, and academic development of preschool-aged children with behavior problems.
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    • "Maternal depression has been linked to a variety of negative outcomes for children. These include low attachment among infants and increased behavioral problems among toddlers (Caughy et al., 2009; Coyne et al., 2007; Dietz et al., 2009; Gross et al., 2009; Meadows et al., 2007). On the other end of the age spectrum, maternal depression has been found to be a predictor of adolescents' depression, their poor social and emotional adjustment, substance use and early sexual risk behavior (Champion et al., 2009; Cortes et al., 2009; Goosby, 2007; Rice et al., 2007). "
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