Paternal Mental Health Affects Child Behavioral Development

(HealthDay News)  Some childhood behavioral, emotional, and social problems may be associated with paternal psychological distress during pregnancy, according to research published online Jan. 6 in Pediatrics.

Anne Lise Kvalevaag, of Helse Fonna HF in Haugesund, Norway, and colleagues used data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study involving 31,663 children to evaluate the association between the mental health of fathers-to-be and the socioemotional and behavioral development of their children at 3 years of age.

Overall, 3% of fathers reported high levels of psychological distress. The researchers identified a small positive association between psychological distress in the fathers and their children’s behavioral difficulties, emotional difficulties, and social functioning. These associations persisted even after adjustment for potential confounding factors.

“Longitudinal population-based studies of fathers and children, with or without psychological distress, are needed to further explore these associations and the role of mediating or moderating factors for the associations,” the authors write. “Nevertheless, the findings from this study suggest that some risk for future child emotional and behavioral problems can be identified during pregnancy, and as such the results are of importance for health professionals and policy makers in their planning of health care in the perinatal period.”

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