Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp 1030–1037

Characteristics of Mothers with Depressive Symptoms Outside the Postpartum Period

  • David G. Rosenthal
  • Nicole Learned
  • Ying-Hua Liu
  • Michael Weitzman
Article

Abstract

Numerous studies have investigated the deleterious effects of maternal depression on child outcomes. Knowledge of characteristics of these mothers is incomplete, as most studies utilize small samples or limit investigation to the postpartum period. Utilizing data from a nationally representative sample of 7,211 fathers and mothers living in households with children aged 5–17 years who participated in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) 2004–2006, the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) was used to assess parental depressive symptoms, the Short Form-12 (SF-12) was used to examine paternal and maternal physical health, and the Columbia Impairment Scale was used to measure child behavioral or emotional problems. In multivariate analyses, maternal unemployment (AOR 1.76, 95 % CI 1.31–2.35); living with smokers (AOR 1.82, 95 % CI 1.12–2.94); poor maternal physical health (AOR 2.31; 95 % CI 1.81–2.94); living with children with behavioral or emotional problems (AOR 2.95, 95 % CI 2.30–3.96); and paternal depressive symptoms (AOR 5.11, 95 % CI 1.97–13.25) each were independently associated with increased rates of maternal depressive symptoms. This paper is the first we are aware of to use a nationally representative sample to investigate characteristics associated with maternal depressive symptoms and found that maternal unemployment, living with smokers, poor maternal physical health, having children with behavioral or emotional problems, and paternal depressive symptoms are each independently associated with maternal depressive symptoms. In these data, paternal depressive symptoms are associated with the greatest risk of mothers exhibiting depressive symptoms, a finding that we believe has never before been shown.

Keywords

Maternal depressive symptoms Child behavior Child emotional problems 

Abbreviations

AOR

Adjusted odds ratio

MEPS

Medical expenditure panel survey

CI

Confidence interval

CIDI

Composite international diagnostic interview

CIS

Columbia impairment scale

CSHCN

Children with special health care needs

DSM-IV

Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders IV

HPA

Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal

MCS

Mental component score

NICHD

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

NHIS

National health interview survey

PCS

Physical component scale

PHQ-2

Patient health questionnaire-2

SF-12

Short-form 12

SHS

Secondhand smoke

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David G. Rosenthal
    • 3
  • Nicole Learned
    • 3
  • Ying-Hua Liu
    • 1
  • Michael Weitzman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental MedicineNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.New York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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