Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Participation in Early Intervention Services for Young Children
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Many young children with developmental delay who are eligible for early intervention (EI) services fail to receive them. We assessed the relationship between depressive symptoms in mothers, a potentially modifiable risk, and receipt of EI services by their eligible children. We conducted multivariable analyses of a nationally representative sample of children eligible for EI services at 24 months using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed at 9 and 24 months. Birthweight <1,000 g, genetic and medical conditions associated with developmental delay, or low scores on measures of developmental performance defined EI eligibility. Service receipt was ascertained from parental self-report. Models were adjusted for sociodemographic and child risk. Among the 650 children who were eligible to receive EI services as infants, 33.2% of children whose mothers were depressed received services compared to 27.0% whose mothers were not depressed (aOR 1.8; 95% CI 0.8, 4.0). Among the 650 children who became eligible to receive services as toddlers, 13.0% of children whose mothers were depressed received services compared to 2.6% whose mothers were not depressed (aOR 4.6, 95% CI 1.5, 14.6). Among children receiving EI services, prevalence of depressive symptoms was 23.0% for mothers whose children became eligible as infants and 57.5% for mothers whose children became eligible as toddlers. Depressive symptoms in mothers of children eligible to receive EI services did not appear to limit participation. EI programs may be an appropriate setting in which to address maternal depressive symptoms.