Influence of maternal depression on household food insecurity for low-income families.Acad Pediatr. 2015 May-Jun; 15(3):305-10.APed
To examine whether maternal depression predicts future household food insecurity for low-income families.
This was a secondary data analysis using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). The study cohort consisted of 2917 low-income mothers, defined as <185% federal poverty level, who were food secure at baseline. Maternal data collected when children were 9 and 24 months of age were used. Data at 9 months were considered baseline, and data at 24 months were considered follow-up. Baseline maternal depressive symptoms were measured by a 12-item abbreviated version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Household food insecurity at follow-up was measured by the US Department of Agriculture Household Food Security Scale.
At baseline, 16% of mothers were depressed (raw score >9). Most mothers were white, unemployed, and born in the United States. The majority received Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) (86%); 39% received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). At follow-up, 11.8% of mothers reported household food insecurity. In multivariable analysis, maternal depression at baseline was significantly associated with food insecurity at follow-up (adjusted odds ratio 1.50; 95% confidence interval 1.06-2.12).
Our results suggest that maternal depression is an independent risk factor for household food insecurity in low-income families with young children. Multidisciplinary interventions embedded within and outside the pediatric medical home should be developed to identify depressed mothers and link them to community-based mental health and food resources. Further longitudinal and interventional studies are needed to understand and address the complex relationship between poverty, maternal depression, social safety nets, and food insecurity.