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Depressed Nonresident Fathers Less Close to Sons

Treating depression may help them to be a bigger part of their children's lives

MONDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- African-American fathers who do not live with their children are likely to be less involved with their sons if they are suffering from depression, and treating their depression may be an important means to help them play a more active and positive part in their children's lives, according to a study in the December issue of Pediatrics.

R. Neal Davis, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor analyzed data on 345 participants in a nonresident African-American fathers and preteen sons program and found that 36 percent of fathers had moderate depression and 11 percent had severe depression.

Fathers who were depressed were more likely to have less contact with their sons, be less close to them, and have less monitoring of their sons compared to those who were not depressed, and they were also more likely to have more conflict with them, the researchers found. Furthermore, the impact of severe depression was found to be worse than that of moderate depression.

"Addressing paternal depressive symptoms may lead to increased support and protection for many children and adolescents at increased risk for adverse health and health behaviors," the authors write. "Medical providers should recognize the important role that nonresident African-American fathers can have in the lives of their children and should include them, when possible, in anticipatory guidance and medical decisions."

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