Maternal depressive symptoms and children's behavior problems : peer relations and parenting as mediators
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Mothers suffering from depression are likely to engage in poor parenting practices, have children with poorer peer relations and more behavior problems. It is likely that maternal depression follows different trajectories in different mothers. These trajectories may lead to differing child outcomes over time. The current study examined a large sample of mothers and children. Latent class growth analysis (LCGA) was used to demonstrate a four-class depressive symptom model, which included high stable, high decreasing, moderate increasing, and low stable trajectories of depressive symptoms measured using the CES-D instrument. Demographic risk was found to differ across classes, with high stable and high decreasing mothers being classified as more at-risk. Mothers in the high stable depression class were found to be less sensitive, and had children with worse outcomes including negative behaviors with peers, social support from peers, and behavior problems. High decreasing mothers were also less sensitive and had children with equally poor outcomes, even though the mothers recovered from their depressive symptoms by the time their children were 54 months of age. In conclusion, early clinical depressive symptoms were likely to predict poorer child outcomes, and more demographic risk was linked to high early depression scores.