Maternal depression in early childhood and child emotional and behavioral outcomes at school age: examining the roles of preschool childcare quality and current maternal depression symptomatology

  • Justine Charrois
  • Sylvana M. Côté
  • Stéphane Paquin
  • Jean R. Séguin
  • Christa Japel
  • Frank Vitaro
  • Julia Kim-Cohen
  • Richard E. Tremblay
  • Catherine M. HerbaEmail author
Original Contribution


Recent studies have shown that the association between maternal depression and child outcome can be moderated by children's experience of childcare (e.g., daycare) during early childhood (0–5 years). We also know that maternal depression in the child's early years has long-term associations with child development. However, the moderating role of childcare quality on long-term associations between maternal depression and child outcome has not been thoroughly investigated. This article examined longitudinal associations between probable maternal depression (PMD) during early childhood (0–5 years) and childcare quality on children’s emotional and behavioral development at the age of 7–8 years (N = 207). Childcare quality was evaluated through observations within the settings. PMD during early childhood was assessed using complementary information from interviews conducted with the mother and current maternal symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Internalizing and externalizing behaviors were reported by the mother, father and the child at age 7–8 years. Results indicate that when mothers reported clinically relevant depression in early childhood, 7-8-year-old children demonstrate fewer behavioral problems if they attended a higher quality childcare setting. The moderating role of childcare quality remained after considering current maternal depression symptoms. Therefore, it is important to ensure high-quality childcare during early childhood to optimize child development.


Children’s behavioral and emotional development Maternal depression Longitudinal study Childcare Childcare quality Early childhood 



CH holds a salary award from the Fonds de Recherche du Québec Santé (FRQS). This study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) (MOP-79420, IHD-107532, and POH-120254). We thank participating families and childcare facilities for their contribution.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Justine Charrois
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sylvana M. Côté
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Stéphane Paquin
    • 5
  • Jean R. Séguin
    • 2
    • 6
  • Christa Japel
    • 1
    • 7
  • Frank Vitaro
    • 2
    • 8
  • Julia Kim-Cohen
    • 9
  • Richard E. Tremblay
    • 2
    • 10
    • 11
  • Catherine M. Herba
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche du CHU Sainte-JustineMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Université de Bordeaux, INSERM U1219, Centre Hospitalier PerrensBordeauxFrance
  5. 5.Department of SociologyUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  7. 7.Department of Education and specialized trainingUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada
  8. 8.Department of Psycho-educationUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  9. 9.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IllinoisChicagoUSA
  10. 10.Departments of Pediatrics and PsychologyUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  11. 11.School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports ScienceUniversity College DublinDublinIreland

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