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The study prospectively followed 135 women during their pregnancy and their offspring till 6 months of age, to examine the roles of maternal and paternal depression during pregnancy on offspring neurobehavioral development as measured by their early temperament. Maternal and paternal depression statuses were ascertained during the third trimester, and infant temperament was evaluated at 6 months, via mothers self-report. Multivariable general linear model was used to assess 1) the main effects of maternal and paternal depression on infant temperament and 2) the interaction effect between maternal and paternal depression on infant temperament. Results show that maternal depression, but not paternal depression, was directly associated with greater neurobehavioral impairment in offspring as evident by more difficult temperament, including lower Smiling and Laughter (p= .006), lower Soothability (p= .02), elevated Sadness (p= .04) and lower Vocal Reactivity (p= .001). Moreover, only in the presence of maternal depression, was paternal depression significantly associated with signs of offspring neurobehavioral impairment, including lower Smiling and Laughter (p= .01) lower High Pleasure Seeking (p= .03), lower Soothability (p= .05), lower Cuddliness (p= .05) and lower Vocal Reactivity (p< .0001). These findings suggest that maternal, but not paternal, depression was directly associated with infant neurobehavioral impairment. Significant interaction effect suggests that in the presence of maternal depression, paternal depression amplifies its negative valence on infant neurobehavioral development. Providing intervention services not only for depressed mothers but also their partners during pregnancy may prove to be an effective prevention strategy for suboptimal neurobehavioral development in offspring.


This article was published in the Journal of Depression and Anxiety, available at DOI: 10.4172/2167-1044.S1-005.

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