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Matern Child Health J. 2016 Apr;20(4):799-807. doi: 10.1007/s10995-015-1910-z.

Parents' Depressive Symptoms and Gun, Fire, and Motor Vehicle Safety Practices.

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Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public Affairs, American University, Ward Circle Building, 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20016, USA.



This study examined associations between mothers' and fathers' depressive symptoms and their parenting practices relating to gun, fire, and motor vehicle safety.


Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), a nationally representative sample of children birth to age five, linear probability models were used to examine associations between measures of parents' depressive symptoms and their use of firearms, smoke detectors, and motor vehicle restraints. Parents reported use of smoke detectors, motor vehicle restraints, and firearm ownership and storage.


Results suggest mothers with moderate or severe depressive symptoms were 2 % points less likely to report that their child always sat in the back seat of the car, and 3 % points less likely to have at least one working smoke detector in the home. Fathers' depressive symptoms were associated with a lower likelihood of both owning a gun and of it being stored locked. Fathers' depressive symptoms amplified associations between mothers' depressive symptoms and owning a gun, such that having both parents exhibit depressive symptoms was associated with an increased likelihood of gun ownership of between 2 and 6 % points.


Interventions that identify and treat parental depression early may be effective in promoting appropriate safety behaviors among families with young children.


Fire safety; Firearm safety; Maternal depressive symptoms; Motor vehicle safety; Paternal depressive symptoms

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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