European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 27, Issue 12, pp 1585–1593 | Cite as

Parental depressive symptoms as a risk factor for child depressive symptoms; testing the social mediators in internationally adopted children

  • Krista LiskolaEmail author
  • Hanna Raaska
  • Helena Lapinleimu
  • Marko Elovainio
Original Contribution


Parental depressive symptoms have shown to be associated with offspring depression but much of the research has been focused on maternal depression. The aim of our study was to investigate the extent to which depressive symptoms of both parents associate with offspring depressive symptoms and whether social factors mediate these associations using data from adopted children with no shared genetic background. Data were derived from the Finnish Adoption survey study (a subsample of adopted children aged between 9 and 12 years, n = 548). Parental depressive symptoms were measured using short version of the General Health Questionnaire and Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) was used to measure depressive symptoms in adoptees. Paternal depressive symptoms were related to the total CDI (B = 0.33, p = 0.05) and two dimensions of offspring depressive symptoms: negative mood (B = 0.10, p = 0.03) and interpersonal problems (B = 0.06, p = 0.009). These associations remained significant even when adjusted for child’s age and gender, age at adoption, type of placement before adoption, continent of birth and adoptive family’s SES. No associations were found between maternal and any dimensions of offspring depressive symptoms. No information about the mental health of biological parents was available. We interpret the results as demonstrating that intergenerational transmission of depressive symptoms is not solely related to shared genes. Also, the results highlight the association of paternal depression with offspring depressive symptoms.


Depressive symptoms CDI Adoption Intergenerational transmission 



ME was supported by the Academy of Finland (265977). The study was supported by the Foundation of Pediatric Research, Finland and EVO Grant from Turku University Hospital.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Krista Liskola
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hanna Raaska
    • 1
  • Helena Lapinleimu
    • 2
  • Marko Elovainio
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Helsinki University HospitalUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Turku University HospitalUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.National Institute for Health and WelfareHelsinkiFinland

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