Peripartum depression in parents with multiple sclerosis and psychiatric disorders in children

Mult Scler. 2016 Dec;22(14):1830-1840. doi: 10.1177/1352458516631037. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Background: Although many individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience depression, there are no studies on the frequency and effect of peripartum depression among parents with MS.

Objective: To examine the frequency of peripartum depression in individuals with MS and its potential association with children's psychiatric disorders.

Methods: We conducted a cohort study in British Columbia, Canada, using linked health databases, of parents with MS and their children, and age-matched unaffected parent-child dyads. The diagnosis of peripartum depression, MS and psychiatric disorders in children was based on information from hospital admission, physician visit and drug prescription claims.

Results: Peripartum depression was significantly more common among MS parents (n = 360) versus unaffected (n = 1207) parents (25.8% vs 18.5%, p value 0.02), especially among MS affected fathers versus unaffected fathers (25.7% vs 10.2%, p value < 0.001). The incidence of psychiatric disorders in children was 3.3 and 2.7 per 100 child-years among children with and without an MS parent, respectively. The rate of psychiatric disorders was significantly higher in children with an MS parent (vs without, hazard ratio (HR): 1.34; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.03-1.74) and among children with parents who had peripartum depression (HR: 1.87; 95% CI: 1.36-2.55).

Conclusion: Parental MS is associated with a higher risk of peripartum depression and increases the risk of psychiatric disorders in children.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; child psychiatry; cohort studies; depression; postpartum depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Fathers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Peripartum Period*