Effects of Maternal Depression Symptoms and Alcohol Use Problems on Child Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior Problems
Empirical evidence suggests maternal behavioral health problems are significant predictors of child behavioral health difficulties, but it is unclear of the specific relation of maternal alcohol use problems and depression symptoms with child internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. The purpose of the study is to examine the impact of maternal depression symptoms and alcohol use problems on children’s internalizing and externalizing behavior problems over a period of 5 years. Implications for intervention may differ depending on which type of maternal behavioral health concerns predicts which child behavior problem. A total of 1874 families eligible for Early Head Start participated. Maternal depression symptoms and alcohol use problems were assessed when children were in preschool, and internalizing and externalizing behavior problems were assessed when children were in fifth grade. Clinical internalizing behavior problems was best predicted by maternal depression symptoms, whereas clinical externalizing behavior problems was best predicted by maternal alcohol use problems. Children were almost twice as likely to have clinical internalizing behavior problems when mothers exhibited very elevated depression symptoms compared to when mothers displayed minimal symptoms. A similar relation was found with maternal alcohol use problems and clinical externalizing behavior problems. Our findings highlight the importance of understanding and treating various kinds of behavioral health concerns in mothers of young children.
KeywordsChildren Externalizing Mothers Alcohol Depression
G.M.: wrote the majority of the introduction and discussion, assisted with writing the method and results, edited all manuscript revisions, and was responsible for the manuscript submission process. N.E.: assisted in the design and execution of the study, analyzed the data, assisted in writing the method and results. L.M.: assisted in the design and execution of the study, assisted in writing the method and results. J.P.: assisted in writing the introduction. K.H.: assisted in writing the introduction.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Integrative guide for the 1991 CBCL/4-18, YSR, and TRF profiles. Burlington: Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont.Google Scholar
- Achenbach, T. M. (2009). ). The Achenbach system of empirically based assessment (ASEBA): Developmental, findings, theory, and applications. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families.Google Scholar
- Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2000). Manual of ASEBA preschool forms and profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, and Families.Google Scholar
- Administration for Children & Families. (2002a). Making a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers and their families: The impacts of early head start. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
- Administration for Children & Families. (2002b). Making a difference in the lives of infants and toddlers and their families: The impacts of early head start volume II: Final technical report appendixes. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
- Administration for Children & Families. (2006). Head start performance measures center, family and child experiences survey (FACES 2000): Technical report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
- Agnafors, S., Comasco, E., Bladh, M., Sydsjö, G., Dekeyser, L., Oreland, L., & Svedin, C. (2013). Effect of gene, environment and maternal depressive symptoms on pre-adolescence behavior problems - a longitudinal study. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 7(1), 1–9. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-7-10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Boller, K., Bradley, R., Cabrera, N., Raikes, H., Pan, B., Shears, J., & Roggman, L. (2006). The early head start father studies: Design, data collection, and summary of father presence in the lives of infants and toddlers. Parenting: Science & Practice, 6(2), 117–143. doi: 10.1080/15295192.2006.9681302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Brennan, P. A., Hammen, C., Anderson, M. J., Bor, W., Najman, J. M., & Williams, G. M. (2000). Chronicity, severity, and timing of maternal depressive symptoms: Relationships with child outcomes at age 5. Developmental Psychology, 36(6), 759–766. doi: 10.1037//0012-16184.108.40.2069.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Chatterji, P., & Markowitz, S. (2001). The impact of maternal alcohol and illicit drug use on children’s behavior problems: Evidence from the children of the national longitudinal survey of youth. Journal of Health Economics, 20(5), 703–731. doi: 10.1016/S0167-6296(01)00090-X.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Chazan-Cohen, R., Ayoub, C., Pan, B. A., Roggman, L., Raikes, L., McKelvey, L., & Hart, A. (2007). It takes time: Impacts of early head start that lead to reductions in maternal depression two years later. Infant Mental Health Journal, 28(2), 151–170. doi: 10.1002/imhj.20127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Conners-Burrow, N. A., McKelvey, L., Pemberton, J. R., LaGory, J. C., Mesman, G. R., & Whiteside-Mansell, L. (2013). Moderators of the relationship between maternal substance abuse symptoms and preschool children’s behavioral outcomes. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 22(8), 1120–1129. doi: 10/1007/s10826-012-9674-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- D’Onofrio, B. M., Van Hulle, C. A., Waldman, I. D., Rogers, J. L., Rathouz, P. J., & Lahey, B. B. (2007). Casual inferences regarding prenatal alcohol exposure and childhood externalizing problems. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(11), 1296–1304. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.64.11.1296.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Fals-Stewart, W., Kelley, M. L., Cooke, C. G., & Golden, J. C. (2003). Predictors of the psychosocial adjustment of children living in households of parents in which fathers abuse drugs: The effects of postnatal parental exposure. Addictive Behaviors, 28(6), 1013–1031. doi: 10.1016/S0306-4603(02)00235-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Fitzgerald, H. E., Sullivan, L. A., Ham, H. P., Zucker, R. A., Bruckel, S., Schneider, A. M., & Noll, R. B. (1993). Predictors of behavior problems in three-year-old sons of alcoholics: Early evidence for the onset of risk. Child Development, 64(1), 110–123. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1993.tb02898.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Foley, D. L., Pickles, A., Simonoff, E., Maes, H. H., Silberg, J. L., Hewitt, J. K., & Eaves, L. J. (2001). Parental concordance and comorbidity for psychiatric disorder and associated risks for current psychiatric symptoms and disorders in a community sample of juvenile twins. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42(3), 381–394. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00731.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Jones, A. S. (2007). Maternal alcohol abuse/dependence, children’s behavior problems, and home environment: Estimates from the national longitudinal survey of youth using propensity score matching. Journal of Studies on Alcohol & Drugs, 68(2), 266–275. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2007.68.266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kendler, K. S., Gardner, C. O., Edwards, A., Hickman, M., Heron, J., Macleod, J., & Dick, D. M. (2013). Dimensions of parental alcohol use/problems and offspring temperament, externalizing behaviors, and alcohol use/problems. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 37(12), 2118–2127. doi: 10.1111/acer.12196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Knitzer, J. (2000). Promoting resilience: Helping young children and parents affected by substance abuse, domestic violence, and depression in the context of welfare reform (Issue Brief 8). New York: National Center for Children in Poverty.Google Scholar
- Whitaker, R. C., Orzol, S. M., & Kahn, R. S. (2006). Maternal mental health, substance use, and domestic violence in the year after delivery and subsequent behavior problems in children at age 3 years. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63(5), 551–560. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.63.5.551.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar