Declaration of interest
Studies have shown that maternal depression during pregnancy predicts offspring depression in adolescence. Child maltreatment is also a risk factor for depression.
To investigate (a) whether there is an association between offspring exposure to maternal depression in pregnancy and depression in early adulthood, and (b) whether offspring child maltreatment mediates this association.
Prospectively collected data on maternal clinical depression in pregnancy, offspring child maltreatment and offspring adulthood (18–25 years) DSM-IV depression were analysed in 103 mother–offspring dyads of the South London Child Development Study.
Adult offspring exposed to maternal depression in pregnancy were 3.4 times more likely to have a DSM-IV depressive disorder, and 2.4 times more likely to have experienced child maltreatment, compared with non-exposed offspring. Path analysis revealed that offspring experience of child maltreatment mediated the association between exposure to maternal depression in pregnancy and depression in adulthood.
Maternal depression in pregnancy is a key vulnerability factor for offspring depression in early adulthood.
- © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2015.
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