Maternal depression and psychiatric outcomes in adolescent offspring: a 13-year longitudinal study.J Affect Disord. 2007 Jan; 97(1-3):145-54.JA
Maternal postnatal depression (PND) has been associated with adverse outcomes in young children, but an association with longer-term psychiatric disorder has not been demonstrated. We present the preliminary findings of a 13-year longitudinal study.
In the course of a prospective longitudinal study, we examined DSM-IV Axis I disorders in 13-year-old adolescents who had (n=53) or had not (n=41) been exposed to maternal PND. We also detailed the occurrence of depression in mothers throughout the 13-year follow-up period.
Maternal PND was associated with higher rates of affective disorders in adolescent offspring. However, mothers who developed PND were also substantially more likely than those who did not to experience depression subsequently, a fact that contributed to the development of depressive disorder in offspring. Maternal PND was associated with increased risk for depression in adolescent offspring only if there had also been later episodes of maternal depression. In contrast, anxiety disorders in offspring were elevated in the maternal PND group regardless of the occurrence of subsequent maternal depression.
Due to the modest sample size and consequently limited power, findings must be regarded as preliminary.
The particular association between early maternal depression and anxiety disorders in offspring was consistent with theories that emphasise the primacy of early environmental exposures. This position was not supported with respect to offspring depressive disorder, where overall duration of maternal depression was a significant factor. PND was associated with recurrent episodes of depression in the majority of cases, underlining the need for monitoring of this population beyond the postnatal period.