Episodic and Persistent Maternal Depressive Symptoms: Population-Based Estimates of Effects on School Readiness and Behavior

Marianne M. Hillemeier, Pennsylvania State University
Paul Morgan, Pennsylvania State University
George Farkas, University of California, Irvine
Steven Maczuga, Pennsylvania State University

Negative effects of maternal depression on early childhood outcomes are widely documented, however few studies use population-based samples of children followed longitudinally. This study uses nationally-representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), to examine the effects of episodic and persistent maternal depressive symptoms on learning and externalizing behaviors among children at age 5. Logistic regressions showed that children whose mothers reported depressive symptoms at both 9 and 48 months (persistent symptoms) had markedly elevated odds of low learning behavior (OR=3.36; p<0.001) and high externalizing behavior (OR=2.95; p<0.01) compared to those whose mothers did not report depressive symptoms. Interestingly, the odds of these adverse outcomes were not significantly elevated among children whose mothers reported depressive symptoms at one but not both points (episodic symptoms). In multinomial regressions, maternal education, poverty, and marital status were associated with the presence of episodic but not persistent maternal depressive symptoms.

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Presented in Poster Session 7