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Maternal Depression Linked to Higher Risk of Child Injury

Study also finds association with child behavioral problems unrelated to injury risk

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Recognizing and treating maternal depression may help reduce the risk of injuries and behavioral problems in children, according to the results of a study published in the December issue of Injury Prevention.

Kieran Phelan, M.D., of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, and colleagues studied 1,106 mother-child dyads between 1992 and 1994, and identified 94 medically attended injuries (8.5 percent) that occurred in 1994.

The researchers found that depressive symptoms in mothers of young children in 1992 were significantly associated with the risk of an injury in 1994. They calculated that every one-point increase in maternal depressive symptoms was associated with a 4 percent increased risk of child injury. Although they found that increasing maternal depressive symptoms also were associated with an increased risk of externalizing behavior problems in children, they found that such problems played no significant role in the relationship between maternal symptoms and child injury.

"Although depressive symptoms in mothers increased the risk of externalizing behaviors in boys, the effect of depressive symptoms of mothers on their children's risk of injury did not appear to be significantly mediated by child behavior in this cohort," the authors conclude. "Greater attention to the recognition, referral, and treatment of maternal depression may result in reductions in both child behavioral problems and injury."

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