(HealthDay News) – Regulated early child care services reduce the risk for internalizing problems among children of mothers with elevated maternal depressive symptoms (MDSs), according to research published online June 19 in JAMA Psychiatry.
Catherine M. Herba, PhD, of the University of Quebec in Montreal, and colleagues conducted a population-based prospective cohort study, within the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, to evaluate the effect of early child care on the associations between MDSs and child internalizing problems, including emotional problems, separation anxiety symptoms, and social withdrawal symptoms, during the preschool period.
The researchers found that emotional problems and social withdrawal symptoms were less likely in children of mothers with elevated MDSs who entered child care early (odds ratio [OR], 0.24 and 0.29, respectively) or late (OR, 0.29 and 0.21, respectively) compared with those who received only maternal care. Children of mothers with elevated MDSs who spent time in group-based child care were less likely to have emotional problems than those who stayed under maternal care (OR, 0.21) or those who received care from a relative or a babysitter (OR, 0.4).
“In conclusion, we found for the first time to date in a population-based longitudinal study spanning the full preschool period that early child care has a protective influence for children of mothers with elevated MDSs, reducing children’s risks for emotional problems and social withdrawal symptoms,” the authors write.
One study author is the founding scientific director of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development.