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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001 Nov;40(11):1316-23.

Prevalence, persistence, and correlates of depressive symptoms in a national sample of mothers of toddlers.

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Department of Psychiatry, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



To examine the prevalence, persistence, and correlates of depressive symptoms in mothers of toddlers in a nationally representative sample.


The self-report components of two linked databases were used for this study, the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey and the 1991 Longitudinal Followup. Depressive symptoms of 7,537 mothers were measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) at both time points. Weighted bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess the stability of maternal depressive symptoms across two time points and maternal and child predictors of elevated depressive symptoms.


Twenty-four percent of mothers at time 1 (mean child age 17 months) and 17% at time 2 (mean child age 35 months) had elevated depressive symptoms (CES-D score > or =16). Thirty-six percent of those with elevated scores at time 1 also had elevated scores at time 2. Not having breast-fed, a mistimed or unwanted pregnancy, and poor child health status were related to elevated depressive symptoms but not persistence.


Elevated depressive symptoms are common in mothers of toddlers. Given the potential magnitude of need, a systematic clinical and public health approach may be required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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