BACKGROUND: Socioeconomically disadvantaged children often have psychosocial problems. This study examined the mediating role of maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood in the association between maternal education, as indicator of socioeconomic status (SES), and child’s psychosocial problems.
METHODS: Included were 3410 children from the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) study. To assess the child’s psychosocial problems at age 5-6 years, mothers and teachers completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the Depressive Anxiety and Stress Scale 21. Mediation analysis was performed to calculate the direct effect of maternal education on SDQ score and indirect effects through maternal depressive symptoms.
RESULTS: The mean mother-reported SDQ total score was significantly higher (P < 0.001) for children of low-educated mothers (6.74 ± 4.41) compared with children of highly educated mothers (4.47 ± 3.73). Levels of maternal depressive symptoms were also higher in low-educated mothers during pregnancy, infancy and early childhood. Maternal depressive symptoms explained 27.5% of the association between maternal education and mother-reported SDQ scores and 22.9% for combined mother/teacher SDQ scores. Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy had the strongest indirect effect.
CONCLUSION: Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy mediate the association between low maternal education and child’s psychosocial problems. Early recognition and treatment of maternal depressive symptoms is important to prevent psychosocial problems in children, especially in those with low education.
SOURCE: de Laat S, Huizink A, Hof M, Vrijkotte T. “Socioeconomic inequalities in psychosocial problems of children: mediating role of maternal depressive symptoms.” NCBI, December 2018.
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