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Autism Res. 2011 Apr;4(2):143-8. doi: 10.1002/aur.170. Epub 2010 Nov 17.

Increased rates of depressed mood in mothers of children with ASD associated with the presence of the broader autism phenotype.

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Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA.


This study examined the relationship between the broader autism phenotype (BAP) and depressed mood in mothers of children with and without autism spectrum disorders (ASD). One hundred and sixty-five mothers (71 with an ASD child and 94 with a non-ASD child) completed a survey of child autism severity (ASD mothers only), parenting stress, BAP, and depression. Mothers of children with ASD reported greater depressed mood, higher parenting stress, and more characteristics associated with the BAP than mothers of children without ASD. For mothers of children with ASD, the BAP uniquely predicted number of depressive symptoms after controlling for child autism severity and parenting stress. In the full sample, the relationship between group status and depressed mood was no longer significant after controlling for parenting stress and maternal BAP. These findings suggest that the higher rate of depression found in mothers of children with ASD may be attributed both to the increased stress of raising a child with ASD, as well as a greater number of autistic features in the mothers that may place them at higher risk for developing depression.

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