OBJECTIVE: The aim of our study was to examine whether maternal depressive symptoms at 9 months postpartum adversely affect growth in preschool- and school-aged children. METHODS: We used data from the US nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort. We fit multivariable logistic regression models to study maternal depressive symptoms at 9 months postpartum (using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale) in relation to child growth outcomes, ≤10% height-for-age, ≤10% weight-for-height, and ≤10% weight-for-age at 4 and 5 years. RESULTS: At 9 months, 24% of mothers reported mild depressive symptoms and 17% moderate/severe symptoms. After adjustment for household, maternal, and child factors, children of mothers with moderate to severe levels of depressive symptoms at 9 months' postpartum had a 40% increased odds of being ≤10% in height-for-age at age 4 (odds ratio = 1.40, 95% confidence interval: 1.04-1.89) and 48% increased odds of being ≤10% in height-for-age at age 5 (odds ratio = 1.48, 95% confidence interval: 1.03-2.13) compared with children of women with few or no depressive symptoms. There was no statistically significant association between maternal depressive symptoms and children being ≤10% in weight-for-height and weight-for-age at 4 or 5 years. CONCLUSIONS: Maternal depressive symptoms during infancy may affect physical growth in early childhood. Prevention, early detection, and treatment of maternal depressive symptoms during the first year postpartum may prevent childhood height-for-age ≤10th percentile among preschool- and school-aged children.
- Child growth
- Maternal depressive symptoms
- Mother-child relations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health