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Parental Depression Tied to Offspring Depression in Teen Years

Exposure to maternal depression both during pregnancy and postpartum strongly associated with depressive symptoms in offspring

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 29, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to maternal depression during pregnancy and postpartum is strongly associated with greater offspring trajectories of depressive symptoms during adolescence, according to a study published online Sept. 24 in BJPsych Open.

Priya Rajyaguru, M.B.B.Ch., from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues explored the timing of maternal and paternal perinatal depression in relation to patterns of change in offspring depressive mood during a 14-year period. Parental antenatal depression (ANTD) was assessed at 18 weeks of gestation and postnatal depression (PNTD) at eight weeks postpartum, while offspring were evaluated at nine time periods between 10 and 24 years of age. The analysis included 5,029 individuals.

The researchers found that offspring exposed to both timings of maternal depression had higher depressive symptoms across adolescence versus offspring not exposed to ANTD or PNTD. Specifically, higher offspring depressive symptoms at age 16 years and a greater rate of linear change in depressive symptoms were seen. Higher depressive symptoms at age 16 years were also associated with isolated maternal ANTD and to a lesser extent PNTD. Isolated maternal PNTD was associated with an increased rate of linear change in depressive symptoms across adolescence. While effect size was smaller, similar patterns were seen for paternal ANTD and PNTD.

"We found that the accumulation of exposure to both timings of ANTD and PNTD, from mothers and fathers, carried the greatest risk for offspring," the authors write. "This finding is particularly relevant as it suggests that it is the accumulation of different exposure timings (as opposed to one exposure timing over another) that has the greatest influence on offspring depression course later in life."

Abstract/Full Text

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