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Children of depressed moms do better when dad is involved, SLU researcher finds
Date:8/14/2007

ST. LOUIS Children whose mothers are depressed are less likely to develop problem behaviors if their fathers are actively engaged in family life, a Saint Louis University researcher finds.

It is well documented that children living in homes with depressed mothers are at increased risk of developing problems such as aggression, hyperactivity, depression and anxiety. However, an involved father one who has a positive relationship with his children may reduce the risk of those behaviors.

The 10-year, population-based study published in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, is the first to examine a fathers role in a household with a depressed mother.

My study corroborates findings from previous research that a child is at increased risk of problem behaviors when the mother is depressed, said Jen Jen Chang, Ph.D., assistant professor of community health in epidemiology at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and principal investigator.

But once we factored in a fathers positive involvement, I observed that the adverse impact of the mothers depression was attenuated. The father served as a buffer. He may have engaged with the children when the mother wasnt available due to her illness.

The level of a fathers involvement was based on questions given to children age 10 and older. Investigators asked the children how often their father talked over important decisions with them; whether he listened to their side of an argument; whether he knew where they were when not at home; whether their father missed events or activities that were important to them; and how close they felt to their father.

Changs study is unprecedented not only because it examined a fathers role in a household with a depressed mother but because it followed the children with multiple assessments throughout childhood and adolescence in a continuous context.

Her results drew on data from
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Contact: Nancy Solomon
solomonn@slu.edu
314-977-8017
Saint Louis University
Source:Eurekalert

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