Observational studies indicate children whose mothers have poor mental health are at increased risk of socio-emotional behavioural difficulties, but it is unknown whether these outcomes vary by the mothers' mental health recognition and treatment status. To examine this question, we analysed linked longitudinal primary care and research data from 1078 women enrolled in the Born in Bradford cohort. A latent class analysis of treatment status and self-reported distress broadly categorised women as (a) not having a common mental disorder (CMD) that persisted through pregnancy and the first 2 years after delivery (N = 756, 70.1 %), (b) treated for CMD (N = 67, 6.2 %), or (c) untreated (N = 255, 23.7 %). Compared to children of mothers without CMD, 3-year-old children with mothers classified as having untreated CMD had higher standardised factor scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (d = 0.32), as did children with mothers classified as having treated CMD (d = 0.27). Results were only slightly attenuated in adjusted analyses. Children of mothers with CMD may be at risk for socio-emotional and behavioural difficulties. The development of effective treatments for CMD needs to be balanced by greater attempts to identify and treat women.
Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Health inequality; Latent class methods; Maternal mental health; Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.