A latent class analysis of maternal depressive symptoms over 12 years and offspring adjustment in adolescence

J Abnorm Psychol. 2009 Aug;118(3):479-93. doi: 10.1037/a0015923.


The authors used data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to model patterns of maternal depressive symptoms, from the period of infants' age 1 month to adolescence (age 12 years), and then examined adolescent adjustment at age 15 years as a function of the course and severity of maternal symptoms. The authors identified 5 latent classes of symptoms in 1,357 women, while also taking into account sociodemographic measures: never depressed, stable subclinical, early decreasing, moderately elevated, and chronic. Women with few symptoms were more likely to be married, better educated, and in better physical health than were women with more elevated symptoms. At age 15 years, adolescents whose mothers were in the chronic, elevated, and stable subclinical latent classes reported more internalizing and externalizing problems and acknowledged engaging in more risky behavior than did children of never depressed mothers. Latent class differences in self-reported loneliness and dysphoria were also found. Discussion focuses on adolescent adjustment, especially among offspring whose mothers reported stable symptoms of depression across their childhoods.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Family Conflict / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Personality Development*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Adjustment*