Roughly one in 10 women in the United States will experience depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The consequences, however, may extend to their children, report researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, who found that a mother’s depression can negatively affect a child’s cognitive development up to the age of 16.
The findings are published in the April issue of Child Development.
Researchers surveyed approximately 900 healthy children and their mothers living in Santiago, Chile at five-year intervals from the child’s infancy through age 16. They observed how affectionate and responsive mothers were to their children at each age period, as well as how much mothers provided age-appropriate learning materials. Children were assessed on verbal cognitive abilities using standardized IQ tests during each assessment. Mothers were tested for symptoms of depression.