Depressed mums and kids

Children whose mothers have severe or prolonged postnatal depression (PND) have significantly greater risk of developing depression through to age 16, according to a British study of 100 mothers (and their children), 58 of whom had PND. The researchers say the increased risk could begin as early as infancy. 

Infant attachment was assessed at 18 months, and the children were again assessed for emotional and behavioural responses at age 5 and 8 years. A clinical researcher then conducted diagnostic interviews when the children were 16.

The rate of depression in children of mothers with PND was more than 40% higher by age 16; the average age of first onset was 14. The researchers found that problems with the children’s attachment in infancy, as well as lower “ego resilience” in childhood were more common – and both were predictors of depression as teenagers.

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2011;50(5):460-70