The impact of depression during pregnacy on infancy and childhood is not frequently studied. This is the abstract of the paper cited below.
While maternal depression is known to carry long-term negative consequences for offspring, very few studies followed children longitudinally to address markers of resilience in the context. We focused on oxytocin (OT) and mother–child synchrony – the biological and behavioral arms of the neurobiology of affiliation – as correlates of resilience among children of depressed mothers. A community birth-cohort was recruited on the second postbirth day and repeatedly assessed for maternal depression across the first year. At 6 and 10 years, mothers and children underwent psychiatric diagnosis, mother–child interactions were coded for maternal sensitivity, child social engagement, and mother–child synchrony, children’s OT assayed, and externalizing and internalizing problems reported. Exposure markedly increased child propensity to develop Axis-I disorder at 6 and 10 years. Child OT showed main effects for both maternal depression and child psychiatric disorder at 6 and 10 years, with maternal or child psychopathology attenuating OT response. In contrast, it decreased synchrony at 6 years but by 10 years synchrony showed only child disorder effect, highlighting the shift from direct to indirect effects as children grow older. Path analysis linking maternal depression to child externalizing and internalizing problems at 10 years controlling for 6-year variables indicated that depression linked with decreased maternal sensitivity and child OT, which predicted reduced child engagement and synchrony, leading to higher externalizing and internalizing problems. OT and synchrony mediated the effects on child behavior problems and an alternative model without these resilience components provided less adequate fit. Maternal depression continues to play a role in children’s development beyond infancy. The mediating effects of OT and synchronous, mutually regulated interactions underscore the role of plasticity in resilience. Results emphasize the need to follow children of depressed mothers across middle childhood and construct interventions that bolster age-appropriate synchrony.
Priel A, Djalovski A, Zagoory-Sharon O, Feldman R Maternal depression impacts child psychopathology across the first decade of life: Oxytocin and synchrony as markers of resilience.
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2018 Feb 27. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12880. [Epub ahead of print]