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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;54(2):169-77. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12014. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

Does maternal depression predict young children's executive function? - a 4-year longitudinal study.

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  • 1Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. ch288@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Building on reports that parental maltreatment and neglect adversely affect young children's executive function (EF), this longitudinal study examined whether exposure to a more common risk factor, mothers' depressive symptoms, predicted individual differences in EF at school-age.

METHODS:

We followed up at age 6 a socially diverse sample of 126 children (78 boys, 48 girls) for whom direct observations of mother-child interactions have been shown to predict gains in EF between the ages of 2 and 4. We used an EF latent factor based on scores from three tasks (Beads, Day/Night, Tower of London) that tapped working memory, inhibitory control and planning, as well as a latent growth model of mothers' Beck Depression Inventory factor scores at four time-points, and included age 6 verbal ability as a covariate in all analyses.

RESULTS:

The intercept and slope for mothers' depressive symptoms each predicted unique variance in EF at age 6; these predictive effects remained significant when we also included: (a) age 2 working memory, (b) maternal education and (c) direct observations of maternal positive control at ages 2 and 6.

CONCLUSION:

Our findings suggest that early exposure to mothers' depressive symptoms adversely affects children's developing EF, and that the chronicity of this exposure may matter.

© 2012 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry © 2012 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

PMID:
23171379
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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