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Testing lifecourse theories characterising associations between maternal depression and offspring depression in emerging adulthood: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

Lacey, Rebecca; Gondek, dawid; Smith, Brooke; Smith, Andrew; Dunn, Erin; Sacker, Amanda; (2022) Testing lifecourse theories characterising associations between maternal depression and offspring depression in emerging adulthood: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 10.1111/jcpp.13699. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Maternal depression is a major determinant of offspring mental health. Yet, little is understood about how the duration and timing of maternal depression shapes youth risk for depressive symptoms, which if understood could inform when best to intervene. This study aimed to determine how the timing and duration of maternal depression was related to offspring depression in emerging adulthood, and if these associations varied by sex. Methods: We analysed data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (a prenatal cohort in the Avon area of England, 1991–2003), n = 3,301. We applied the structured lifecourse modelling approach to maternal depression (assessed at 13 points from prenatal period to adolescence) and emerging adult depressive symptoms (age 21). Lifecourse models assessed were accumulation (sum of timepoints when maternal depression was reported), sensitive periods (each period assessed as one during which maternal depression has a stronger effect) and instability (frequent fluctuations in maternal depression). Results: Female adolescents (n = 2,132) had higher SMFQ scores (mean = 6.15, SD = 5.90) than males (n = 1,169, mean = 4.87, SD = 4.82). Maternal depression was most common in the infancy period (21.2% males; 21.4% females). For males, accumulation was the most appropriate lifecourse model; for each additional period of maternal depression, depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood increased by 0.11 (95% CI: 0.07, 0.15, one-sided p value ≤ .001). For females, exposure to maternal depression was associated with increasing depressive symptoms in emerging adulthood, with the largest effect in mid-childhood (increase of 0.27 units, 95% CI 0.03–0.50, p = .015 for difference between mid-childhood and other time-periods) and a smaller, equal effect at all other time-periods (increase of 0.07 units per time-period, 95% CI: 0.03–0.12, p = .002). Conclusions: This study highlights the importance of ongoing maternal depression for the development of depression in offspring through to emerging adulthood. Because long-term exposure to maternal depression was particularly important, early interventions are warranted.

Type: Article
Title: Testing lifecourse theories characterising associations between maternal depression and offspring depression in emerging adulthood: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.13699
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13699
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: accumulation; ALSPAC; depression; depressive symptoms; lifecourse; sensitive periods
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10155088
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