Maternal depression symptoms and internalising problems in the offspring: the role of maternal and family factors
Maternal depression symptoms (MDS) are a robust risk factor for internalising problems (IP) in the offspring. However, the relative importance of MDS and other factors associated with it (i.e. other types of maternal psychopathology, maternal parenting practices, family characteristics) is not well understood. To (a) identify a group of children with high levels of IP between 6 and 12 years using combined maternal and teacher assessments and (b) to quantify the associations between trajectories of MDS during early childhood and children’s IP trajectories before and after controlling for family factors associated with MDS. MDS and family factors were assessed in a population-based sample in Canada (n = 1537) between 5 months and 5 years. The outcome variable was membership in trajectories of teacher- and mother-rated IP between ages 6 and 12 years. Family factors were included as covariates in a multinomial logistic regression model. There was a strong association between MDS and children’s atypically high levels of IP in unadjusted analyses [OR 4.14 (95% CI 2.60; 6.61)]. The association was reduced, but remained strong [2.60 (1.55; 4.36)] when maternal psychopathology, maternal parenting, and family socioeconomic status were entered in the model. MDS, maternal anxiety, and low parental self-efficacy were associated with offspring’s high IP trajectories. MDS is associated with high levels of children’s IP independently of other maternal and family characteristics. Intervention targeting maternal psychopathology and parenting self-efficacy and testing the impact on children’s IP would provide information on the putative causal pathways between maternal and offspring’s symptomatology.
KeywordsChild development Maternal depression symptoms Internalising problems Family factors
Funding was provided by Ministère de la Santé (Québec), Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Santé, Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Société et Culture, Social Science and Humanities Research Center (Canada), Institute of Population and Public Health, Centre de recherche CHU Sainte Justine, University of Montreal, Pfizer Foundation and Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship. Michel Boivin was supported by the Canada Research Chair Program (Tier 1 : Canada Research Chair in Child Development).
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