The Web address of this article is
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This research supports the premise that
low-nurturance early environments can promote life-long psychological
injuries in young kids. See my comments after the article. Links and
hilights below are mine. - Peter K. Gerlach,
+ + +
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 Ottawa 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: http://reut.rs/1zWKAiz.
But not much is known about maternal depression and later adolescent
behaviors, Colman’s team writes in the journal Pediatrics.
The study team analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Survey of
Children and Youth, a large Canadian population study that began when the
kids were ages two to five in 1994 and ended in 2009 when they were
years, the participating mothers answered questions about their own physical
and mental health, and about the health of their kids and spouses or
partners, their available social support and family functioning.
Once the children reached the age of 10 or 11, they filled out their own
When they reached adolescence, the young participants were asked about their
engagement in risky behaviors such
as drug and alcohol use, carrying a weapon or running away from home.
A total of 2,910 teens completed the study,
The researchers found that teens who had been exposed to maternal depressive
symptoms during middle childhood were more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes
or marijuana, and to engage in violent and nonviolent delinquent behavior.
In addition, they were more likely to engage in these behaviors earlier than
teens whose mothers had low or no symptoms of depression.
The study team also found that teens exposed to recurrent maternal
depression throughout their childhood engaged in more nonviolent risky
behaviors compared to those whose mothers had low or no depression.
In contrast, kids whose mothers’ depression symptoms started when the child
was already in the early teens did not engage in more risky behaviors than
kids without any maternal depression exposure.
The results don't prove that the
mothers' symptoms when their children were young caused the children's
behavior in adolescence.
But, the authors write, middle childhood is a period of increasing
cognitive, social and emotional development. Kids in this age group begin
school, refine their language skills and increasingly engage in social peer
relationships. Being exposed to a mother’s depressive symptoms and negative
parenting behaviors may harm the child’s own development during this
sensitive time and lead to “lasting deficits,” they speculate.
Colman said that asking for help can be hard, but even just talking about
how she is feeling can sometimes be a really helpful start on the road to
recovery for a mother experiencing depression.
Colman thinks it’s great that there seems to be a growing focus on maternal
health, but added, “let’s not forget that what is good for mothers is often
good for their kids as well.”
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1rd5zfb Pediatrics, online December 22, 2014.
This research adds to the evidence that maternal "mental health" affects
kids' development and behavior. This research didn't define "depression," or
the criteria the researchers used to identify it. The study focused on kids'
"middle childhood," and depended on self-reports from both mothers and older
kids. Self-reports often distort reality because of shame, guilt, and
As with many such studies, this one doesn't investigate how the
mothers were raised, why they were depressed, or whether their
depression might have been partly or wholly incomplete
grief over major life
The study focused on only one of a complex set of inter-related family
variables (maternal depression) that affect kids' personal and social
development. It makes no mention of whether the
in which the sampled kids were raised was
or not, and conspicuously omitted any inclusion of fathers' influence on
teens making or avoiding "risky" choices.
This study indirectly supports the premise that teens' (and adults') "risky"
behaviors are symptoms of early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse
(trauma) caused by parents'
[psychological wounds + unawareness] from their ancestors. -
Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Online Lesson 1 in this non-profit Web site explores
psychological wounding and effective wound-recovery. Lesson 6 offers
a framework for