To What Extent Can Postnatal Depression Impact Child Behavior?

Persistence of severe PND was found to substantially increasing the risk for behavioral problems at 3.5 years of age
Persistence of severe PND was found to substantially increasing the risk for behavioral problems at 3.5 years of age

HealthDay News — Persistent and severe maternal postnatal depression (PND) is associated with increased likelihood of multiple adverse child outcomes, including behavioral disturbance, according to a study published online January 31 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Elena Netsi, DPhil, from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the association between severity and persistence of PND and long-term child outcomes. Three thresholds of PND severity (moderate, marked, severe) were defined using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Depression was considered persistent when the EPDS score was above threshold at 2 and 8 months after childbirth. Data were included for 9,848 mothers and 8,287 children. 

Related Articles

The researchers found that for all 3 severity levels, women with persistent PND showed elevated depressive symptoms up to 11 years after childbirth, compared to women with PND that was not persistent and women who did not score above the EPDS threshold. PND correlated with double the risk of child behavior disturbance, regardless of persistence. For mothers with moderate, marked, and severe PND, the odds ratios for child behavioral disturbance were 2.22, 1.91, and 2.39, respectively. Persistence of severe PND correlated with significantly increased risks for behavioral problems at age 3.5 years, lower mathematics grades at age 16, and higher depression prevalence at 18 years (odds ratios, 4.84, 2.65, and 7.44, respectively).

"Children of women with persistent PND, especially when it is severe, are at an increased risk for a number of adverse outcomes," the authors write.

Abstract/Full Text
Editorial