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Maternal depression symptoms, unhealthy diet and child emotional–behavioural dysregulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1851-1860
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume45
Issue number9
Early online date19 Dec 2014
DOIs
Accepted/In press18 Nov 2014
E-pub ahead of print19 Dec 2014
Published26 May 2015

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Abstract

Background: Maternal depression and unhealthy diet are well-known risk factors for adverse child emotional-behavioral outcomes, but their developmental relationships during the prenatal and postnatal periods are largely uncharted. This study sought to examine the inter-relationships between maternal depression symptoms and unhealthy diet (assessed during pregnancy and postnatal periods) in relation to child emotional-behavioral dysregulation (assessed at ages 2, 4, and 7 years).

Methods: In a large prospective birth cohort of 7814 mother-child pairs, path analysis was used to examine the independent and inter-related associations of maternal depression symptoms and unhealthy diet with child dysregulation.

Results: Higher prenatal maternal depression symptoms were prospectively associated with higher unhealthy diet, both during pregnancy and postnatal period, which in turn, was associated with higher child dysregulation up to age 7 years. In addition, during pregnancy, higher maternal depression symptoms and unhealthy diet were each independently associated with higher child dysregulation up to age 7 years. These results were robust to other prenatal, perinatal and postnatal confounders (such as parity and birth complications, poverty, maternal education, etc.).

Conclusions: Maternal depression symptoms and unhealthy diet show important developmental associations, but are also independent risk factors for abnormal child development

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