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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 May;20(5):711-8. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2232. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

Prevalence and risk factors of maternal depression during the first three years of child rearing.

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Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614, USA.



This longitudinal study examined maternal depression status from birth of a child to 36 months of age using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.


Maternal depression was assessed using the Center of Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and defined as a score of ≥16. For this study, early onset depression was defined as depression within the 6 months after birth, and late onset depression was depression onset when the child was ≥24 months old. Chronic depression was defined as depression that started within 6 months after birth and lasted until 24 months of age or longer.


The prevalence of maternal depression was 32.2% for early onset, 7.4% for late onset, and 13.4% for chronic depression. The prevalence of maternal depression was highest at 1 month, decreased at 6 months, and then remained fairly stable until 36 months. Mothers 18-24 years of age, of black race, unemployed, with lower social support, single, or with poor general health had a higher prevalence of both early and chronic depression compared to other groups.


Younger maternal age, poverty, lower education, and lack of social support were all significantly associated with increased maternal depression in multivariate regression models. Younger age, black race, unemployment, single status, lack of social support, and poor general health were all risk factors for increased prevalence of maternal depression.

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