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Patterns of Maternal Distress from Pregnancy Through Childhood Predict Psychopathology During Early Adolescence


Capitalizing on a longitudinal cohort followed from gestation through adolescence (201 mother–child dyads), we investigate the contributions of severity and stability of both maternal depressive and perceived stress symptoms to adolescent psychopathology. Maternal depressive and perceived stress trajectories from pregnancy through adolescence were identified with latent class growth analyses, and associations with adolescent internalizing and externalizing symptoms were examined. For both depression and stress, the most common trajectory group comprised mothers displaying stable and low symptom levels over time, and adolescents of these mothers had the fewest internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Maternal membership to one or more aberrant trajectory groups predicted higher levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, determined by both maternal and adolescent self-report. This study indicates that profiles of multiple indicators of maternal psychopathology assessed across childhood, beginning prenatally, can provide critical additional insight into child psychopathology risk.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Natasha A. Bailey.

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Research Involving Human and Animal Participants

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.

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Informed consent was obtained from all maternal participants and assent was obtained from all children included in the study.

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Bailey, N.A., Irwin, J.L., Davis, E.P. et al. Patterns of Maternal Distress from Pregnancy Through Childhood Predict Psychopathology During Early Adolescence. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev (2021).

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  • Maternal psychological distress
  • Early adolescent internalizing symptoms
  • Early adolescent externalizing symptoms
  • Latent class growth analyses