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J Affect Disord. 2003 May;74(3):273-8.

Criminality in the offspring of antenatally depressed mothers: a 33-year follow-up of the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 5000, FIN-90014 Oulu, Finland.



No epidemiological studies have been reported on the association between mothers' antenatal depression and criminality in their offspring.


The material consists of a general population cohort of 12059 children born in 1966 in Northern Finland and followed to the end of 1998. Mothers were asked at midgestation by a nurse at the antenatal clinic if they felt themselves to be depressed. The Finnish Ministry of Justice provided information for all descendants on criminal offences. The associations between maternal depression and subgroups of violent and non-violent, violent recidive and non-recidive criminality in male and female offspring were analysed.


Of the mothers 14% had depressed mood during pregnancy. A total of 607 (10.9%) male and 72 (1.3%) female criminal offenders were included in the cohort. When adjusted for mother's marital status, smoking, wantedness of the pregnancy, place of residence, socioeconomic status and perinatal complications, the odds ratio (OR) for males was 1.4 (95% CI 1.0-1.9) in the association between maternal depression and non-violent offenders, 1.6 (1.1-2.4) between maternal depression and violent offenders and 1.7 (1.0-3.0) between maternal depression and violent recidivists. The adjusted OR for females involved in non-violent crimes was 1.7 (0.9-3.3) and 0.6 (0.1-6.0) for violent crimes.


Maternal depression was not checked using a standardized assessment.


For male offspring of antenatally depressed mothers there was a significant but slight increase in criminality. The emotional state of a pregnant mother may have some, but limited, influence on later criminality in the offspring.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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