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Treating Mothers' Depression Helps Their Children, Too

Maternal depression increases rate of child's disorders; vigorous treatment recommended

TUESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- When a mother's depression goes into remission, it has a positive effect on the mental health of her children, according to a study in the March 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Myrna M. Weissman, Ph.D., of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues studied 151 mother-child pairs in eight primary care and 11 psychiatric outpatient clinics across the United States, to determine whether treating maternal depression with medication led to reduced symptoms and diagnoses in their children, including anxiety and disruptive and depressive disorders.

There was a significant association between the remission of maternal depression after three months of medication and reductions in children's diagnoses and symptoms. Overall, there was an 11 percent decrease in rates of diagnoses among children whose mothers' depression remitted. In contrast, there was an approximately 8 percent increase in rates of diagnoses among the children of depressed mothers who did not go into remission.

"Our findings suggest that vigorous treatment of depressed mothers to achieve remission is associated with positive outcomes in their children as well, whereas failure to treat depressed mothers may increase the burden of illness in their children," the authors conclude.

Several of the study authors received research support, consulting fees, or speaking fees from drug companies.

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