Paternal Depression Tied to Child's Emotional Behavior

Paternal depression, mental problems associated with child's emotional, behavioral problems

MONDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Paternal mental health problems and depressive symptoms are independently associated with increased rates of emotional and behavioral problems in children, according to a study published online Nov. 7 in Pediatrics.

Michael Weitzman, M.D., from the University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues investigated the association between paternal mental health problems and depressive symptoms, and emotional or behavioral problems in children. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data were analyzed for a representative sample of 21,993 U.S. children (aged 5 to 17 years) and their mothers and fathers. Paternal depressive symptoms were assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire-2, and mental health problems were assessed by the Short-Form 12 Scale. The child's emotional or behavioral problems were the main outcome measures, and were assessed using the Columbia Impairment Scale.

The investigators found that even after controlling for potential confounders, including maternal depressive symptoms and other mental health problems, paternal depressive symptoms and mental health problems correlated independently with increased rates of emotional or behavioral problems in children. Among children of fathers with depressive symptoms, the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for emotional or behavioral problems was 1.72, and the aORs that correlated with abnormal paternal scores on the Short-Form 12 (mental component scale) were 1.33 and 1.48 for those within one standard deviation and more than one standard deviation below average, respectively.

"Living with fathers with depressive symptoms and other mental health problems is independently associated with increased rates of emotional or behavioral problems of children," the authors write.

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