Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 61–71 | Cite as

Spanish Language Use Across Generations and Depressive Symptoms Among US Latinos

  • Julia B. Ward
  • Anissa I. Vines
  • Mary N. Haan
  • Lindsay Fernández-Rhodes
  • Erline Miller
  • Allison E. AielloEmail author
Original Article


Acculturation markers, such as language use, have been associated with Latino depression. Language use may change between generations; however, few studies have collected intergenerational data to assess how language differences between generations impact depression. Using the Niños Lifestyle and Diabetes Study (2013–2014), we assessed how changes in Spanish language use across two generations of Mexican-origin participants in Sacramento, California, influenced offspring depressive symptoms (N = 603). High depressive symptoms were defined as CESD-10 scores ≥ 10. We used log-binomial and linear-binomial models to calculate prevalence ratios and differences, respectively, for depressive symptoms by language use, adjusting for identified confounders and within-family clustering. Decreased Spanish use and stable-equal English/Spanish use across generations protected against depressive symptoms, compared to stable-high Spanish use. Stable-low Spanish use was not associated with fewer depressive symptoms compared to stable-high Spanish use. Exposure to multiple languages cross-generationally may improve resource access and social networks that protect against depression.


Mexican Americans Depressive symptoms Acculturation Family Language 



Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale-10


Confidence interval


Major depressive disorder


Niños Lifestyle & Diabetes Study


Prevalence difference


Prevalence ratio


Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging


Standard deviation


Unites States



This study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Grant Numbers R01 DK087864 and R01 DK60753), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Grant Number P60 MD002249), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant Number T32 HD007168), and the National Institute on Aging (Grant Number R01 AG012975).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study, and study procedures were approved by institutional review boards at participating institutions.

Supplementary material

10578_2018_820_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia B. Ward
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anissa I. Vines
    • 1
  • Mary N. Haan
    • 3
  • Lindsay Fernández-Rhodes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erline Miller
    • 1
  • Allison E. Aiello
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Carolina Population CenterUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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