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Maternal and Paternal Depression and Child Mental Health Trajectories: Evidence from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

Rajyaguru, Priya, Kwong, Alex, Braithwaite, Elizabeth ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4902-2262 and Pearson, Rebecca ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8527-3400 (2021) Maternal and Paternal Depression and Child Mental Health Trajectories: Evidence from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. BJPsych Open, 7 (5). e166-e166. ISSN 2056-4724

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Abstract

Background: The relationship between offspring depression profiles across adolescence and different timings of parental depression during the perinatal period remains unknown. Aims: To explore different timings of maternal and paternal perinatal depression in relation to patterns of change in offspring depressive mood over a 14-year period. Methods: Data was obtained from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Parental antenatal depression was assessed at 18 weeks gestation (ANTD); and at 8 weeks postpartum (postnatal depression, PNTD). Population-averaged trajectories of offspring depressive symptoms using the short mood and feelings questionnaire (SMFQ), on 9 occasions between 10 and 24 years of age were estimated. Results: Full data were available for 5,029 individuals. Offspring exposed to both timings of maternal depression had higher depressive symptoms across adolescence compared to offspring not exposed to ANTD or PNTD, characterised by higher depressive symptoms at age 16: 7.07 SMFQ points (95% CI= 6.19, 7.95; p<0.001) and a greater rate of linear change: 0.698 SMFQ points (95% CI= 0.47, 0.93; p= 0.002). Isolated maternal ANTD, and to a lesser extent PNTD were also both associated with higher depressive symptoms at age 16, yet isolated maternal PNTD showed greater evidence for an increased rate of linear change across adolescence. A similar pattern was observed for paternal ANTD/PNTD, though effect sizes were attenuated. Conclusions: This study adds to the literature demonstrating that exposure to two timings of maternal depression (ANTD and PNTD) is strongly associated with greater offspring trajectories of depressive symptoms.

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