Longitudinal patterns of maternal depressive symptoms have yet to be linked to risky behaviours, such as substance use or violence, in early adolescence, when such behaviours may be particularly detrimental. This study was carried out to do this. Using data from the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study, it modelled the effect of trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms at child ages 3, 5, 7 and 11 years on antisocial behaviour and delinquency at age 11 years (N = 12,494). It also explored their role in predicting moral judgement and attitudes to alcohol at age 11, important predictors of delinquent or antisocial behaviour and alcohol use, respectively. Latent class analysis showed four longitudinal types of maternal depressive symptoms (chronically high, consistently low, moderate-accelerating and moderate-decelerating). Maternal symptom typology predicted antisocial behaviour in males and attitudes to alcohol in females, even after adjusting for youth’s age and pubertal status and after correcting for confounding. Specifically, compared to males growing up with never-depressed mothers, those exposed to chronically high or accelerating maternal depressive symptoms were more likely to report engaging in loud and rowdy behaviour, alcohol use and bullying. Females exposed to chronically high maternal depressive symptoms were more likely than those growing up with never-depressed mothers to support the view that alcohol use is harmless. While causal conclusions cannot be drawn, these findings suggest that preventing or treating maternal depressive symptoms in childhood may be a useful approach to reducing future externalising and health-risk behaviours in offspring.
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 13, 2017
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