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August 1986

Depressed Parents and Their ChildrenGeneral Health, Social, and Psychiatric Problems

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Weissman, Merikangas, Prusoff, Wickramaratne, and Gammon, and Mss John and Warner) and Epidemiology (Drs Weissman and Merikangas), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn; and the Institute of Psychiatry, The Maudsley Hospital, London (Dr Angold).

Am J Dis Child. 1986;140(8):801-805. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1986.02140220083038

• Two hundred twenty children (aged 6 to 23 years) from families with either depressed or normal (nonpsychiatrically III) parents of comparable sociodemographic backgrounds were studied. The children from families in which at least one parent had experienced a major depression were reported to have had more adverse perinatal events; were later in achieving some developmental landmarks; had more convulsions, head injuries, operations, and psychiatric disorders (particularly major depression); and made more suicide attempts. Overall, there were no significant differences in IQ between children in both groups. Mothers in families with a depressed parent reported more medical problems during pregnancy and labor, and the children were reported to have experienced more distress at birth. Since major depression is a highly prevalent disorder in women of childbearing ages, these findings have direct clinical implications for pediatricians. Their specificity for major depression, as contrasted with other psychiatric disorders or chronic Illnesses in the parents, requires further study.

(AJDC 1986;140:801-805)