Print Edition - 2018-05-03  |  Health and Living

Mom’s depression tied to kids’ emotional, intellectual development

  • CHILDREN’S HEALTH

May 3, 2018-

A mother’s depression is linked with her children’s development from infancy through adolescence, according to a new study. Researchers studied 875 middle-or lower-class mothers in Chile and their healthy children over a 16-year period, evaluating participants roughly every four years. About half of the mothers had symptoms of depression, and one-third were severely depressed. At age five, children with severely depressed mothers had an average verbal IQ score of 7.3 (on a scale of 1 to 19), compared to a higher score of 7.8 in children without depressed mothers. The discrepancy might not seem like a big difference, but it is truly significant and important and highly meaningful for children’s learning skills.

These children will have a smaller vocabulary and poorer comprehension skills. The study team also found that depressed moms didn’t interact as well with their children. Researchers had observed the mothers’ emotional and verbal communication with their children during spontaneous interactions in the home.  Highly depressed moms were less responsive, affectionate, loving and warm. They didn’t invest emotionally or provide learning materials to their child as much as mothers who were not depressed. They found that a mother’s level of emotional, verbal and educational support was more strongly linked with her depression level as children got older. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends screening new mothers for depression during the months after childbirth.

Published: 03-05-2018 07:51

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