Maternal depression, paternal psychopathology, and toddlers' behavior problems

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2009 Jan;38(1):48-61. doi: 10.1080/15374410802575362.


This article examined the effects of maternal depression during the postpartum period (Time 1) on the later behavior problems of toddlers (Time 3) and tested if this relationship was moderated by paternal psychopathology during toddlers' lives and/or mediated by maternal parenting behavior observed during mother-child interaction (Time 2). Of the 101 mothers who participated in this longitudinal study with their toddlers, 51 had never experienced an episode of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and 50 had experienced an episode of MDD during the first 18 months of their toddlers' lives. Maternal depression at Time 1 was significantly associated with toddlers' externalizing and internalizing behavior problems only when paternal psychopathology was present. As predicted, maternal negativity at Time 2 was found to mediate the relationship between maternal depression at Time 1 and toddlers' externalizing behavior problems at Time 3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Internal-External Control
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Object Attachment
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy