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Child Abuse Negl. 2012 May;36(5):461-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.04.002. Epub 2012 May 26.

Paternal depression and risk for child neglect in father-involved families of young children.

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  • 1School of Social Work and Research Center for Group Dynamics, University of Michigan, 1080 South University Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine the association of paternal depression with risk for parental neglect of young children.

STUDY DESIGN:

The sample was derived from a birth cohort study of 1,089 families in which both biological parents resided in the home when the target child was 3- and 5-years old. Prospective analyses examined the contribution of paternal and maternal parenting risks (e.g., depression, alcohol use, and parenting stress) to the incidence of neglect of the target child. Models accounted for a comprehensive set of factors associated with parental child neglect in 2-parent families, including quality of the parental relationship, household economic conditions, and paternal demographic characteristics.

RESULTS:

Approximately 12% of families reported at least 1 instance of neglect; 10% of fathers were depressed when their child was 3-years old. Rates of paternal and maternal depression were twice as high in families in which child neglect was present. Paternal depression when a child was 3-years old was associated with increased odds of child neglect at age 5 [adjusted odds ratio: 1.94 (95% confidence interval: 1.18-3.19); P<.01]. Father-related risks for neglect remained statistically significant after accounting for strong, significant effects of maternal parenting risks, including maternal depression, and household economic hardship. Paternal parenting stress was also associated with heightened risk for neglect, although only at the level of marginal significance after accounting for maternal parenting risks [adjusted odds ratio: 1.40 (95% confidence interval: 0.97-2.04); P=.075].

CONCLUSIONS:

Screening fathers for parenting risks such as depression during well-baby visits and social work intervention to facilitate fathers' help-seeking behaviors related to treatment of depression may help to prevent and reduce risk of neglect.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22633873
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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