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Br J Psychiatry. 2013 Feb;202:108-14. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.104984. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

Risk of psychopathology in adolescent offspring of mothers with psychopathology and recurrent depression.

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Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Section, Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff, UK.



Offspring of mothers with depression are at heightened risk of psychiatric disorder. Many mothers with depression have comorbid psychopathology. How these co-occurring problems affect child outcomes has rarely been considered.


To consider whether the overall burden of co-occurring psychopathology in mothers with recurrent depression predicts new-onset psychopathology in offspring.


Mothers with recurrent depression and their adolescent offspring (9-17 years at baseline) were assessed in 2007 and on two further occasions up to 2011. Mothers completed questionnaires assessing depression severity, anxiety, alcohol problems and antisocial behaviour. Psychiatric disorder in offspring was assessed using the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment.


The number of co-occurring problems in mothers (0, 1 or 2+) predicted new-onset offspring disorder (odds ratio (OR) = 1.80, 95% CI 1.17-2.77, P = 0.007). Rates varied from 15.7 to 34.8% depending on the number of co-occurring clinical problems. This remained significant after controlling for maternal depression severity (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.03-2.89, P = 0.040).


The burden of co-occurring psychopathology among mothers with recurrent depression indexes increased risk of future onset of psychiatric disorder for offspring. This knowledge can be used in targeting preventive measures in children at high risk of psychiatric disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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