(Reuters Health) - Having a depressed mother during elementary or middle school raises the likelihood a child will engage in risky behaviors like drinking and smoking during the teen years, according to a new Canadian study.
Based on nearly 3,000 children followed since they were toddlers, the researchers also found that kids with depressed mothers in “middle childhood” were likely to start risky health behaviors earlier in their adolescence than other kids.
“Although there is a fairly good body of evidence suggesting that maternal depression is associated with depression in the child, there is a lot less about how maternal depression might influence adolescent behavior,” Ian Colman, the study’s senior author, told Reuters Health in an email.
“Given how prevalent maternal depression is, and that risky adolescent behaviors are associated with poor long-term outcomes in adulthood, we thought better evidence in this area could be really useful” said Colman, a researcher at the University of Ottowa in Ontario.
Previous studies have suggested a link between a mother’s depression during pregnancy or right after a baby is born to the teenager’s mental health (see Reuters Health article of October 10, 2013 here: reut.rs/1zWKAiz).
But not much is known about maternal depression and later adolescent behaviors, Colman’s team writes in the journal Pediatrics. More.