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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2011 Nov;50(11):1098-109. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2011.07.020. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Transmission and prevention of mood disorders among children of affectively ill parents: a review.

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Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



To provide a conceptual review of the literature on children of depressed parents over the past 12 years.


This selective review focused on published studies that delineate the diagnosis of depression in parents, have large samples, describe children 6 to 17 years old, and are methodologically rigorous. The review emphasized conceptual advances and major progress since 1998. Recent efforts in prevention research were discussed, gaps in the existing literature were noted, and directions for targeted research on children of depressed parents were highlighted.


Over the past 12 years there has been considerable progress in delineating the gene-by-environment interplay in determining the range of outcomes in children. In addition, progress has been made in identifying risk mechanisms and moderators that underlie the transmission of disorder and in developing effective prevention programs.


This review highlights directions for further research, including different areas affected by parental depression in parents and children, and in understanding the underlying mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of depression, so that preventive and treatment efforts can be tailored effectively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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