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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00859

Chronic maternal depressive symptoms are associated with reduced socio-emotional development in children at 2 years of age: Analysis of data from an intervention cohort in rural Pakistan

Clariana De Oliveira1*,  Muneera Rasheed2 and  Aisha K. Yousafzai1
  • 1Harvard University, United States
  • 2Aga Khan University, Pakistan

Background: Maternal depression affects a high proportion of women during the antenatal and postnatal period in low- and middle-income countries. While maternal depression is recognized as a significant risk for poor early child development that warrants interventions, the effects of chronic maternal depression on children’s development is less understood.

Objective: To determine the association of chronicity of maternal depressive symptoms and early child development in a rural population in southern Pakistan.

Materials and Methods: This study employs data from the ‘Pakistan Early Child Development Scale-Up Trial,’ a randomized controlled study that evaluated the integration of responsive stimulation and nutrition interventions in a community health service. In the present analysis, linear regression was used to test the effects of chronicity of high maternal depressive symptoms on children’s early development (n=1205 mother-infant dyads). Children’s development was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development at 24 months of age. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed at baseline and every 6 months using the Self-Reporting Questionnaire.

Results: No significant associations were observed between chronic maternal depressive symptoms and child cognitive, language or motor development after adjusting for parental characteristics, the caregiving environment and socioeconomic variables. A negative significant association between chronicity of high maternal depressive symptoms and child socio-emotional development (β coefficient -2.57, 95 % CI: -5.14;-0.04) was observed after adjusting for the selected variables.

Conclusions: The results suggest that interventions designed to promote early child development should also integrate repeat screening for depression and longer-term psychosocial support for mothers.

Keywords: Maternal Depression, chronicity, Early child development (ECD), Low- and middle income countries, Pakistan

Received: 30 Jun 2019; Accepted: 01 Nov 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 De Oliveira, Rasheed and Yousafzai. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Clariana De Oliveira, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, Massachusetts, United States,