Maternal Adverse Childhood Experience and Depression in Relation with Brain Network Development and Behaviors in Children: A Longitudinal Study

Cereb Cortex. 2021 Jul 29;31(9):4233-4244. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab081.


Maternal childhood maltreatment and depression increase risks for the psychopathology of the offspring. This study employed a longitudinal dataset of mother-child dyads to investigate the developmental trajectories of brain functional networks and behaviors of children in relation with maternal childhood adverse experience and depression. Maternal childhood trauma was retrospectively assessed via childhood trauma questionnaire, whereas maternal depressive symptoms were prospectively evaluated during pregnancy and after delivery (n = 518). Child brain scans were acquired at age of 4.5, 6, and 7.5 years (n = 163) and behavioral problems were measured at 7.5 years using the Child Behavior Checklist. We found the functional connectivity of the language network with the sensorimotor, frontal, and attentional networks as a function of maternal adverse experience that interacted with sex and age. Girls exposed to mothers with depressive symptoms or childhood abuse showed the increased development of the functional connectivity of the language network with the visual networks, which was associated with social problems. Girls exposed to mothers with depressive symptoms showed the slower growth of the functional connectivity of the language network with the sensorimotor networks. Our findings, in a community sample, suggest the language network organization as neuroendophenotypes for maternal childhood trauma and depression.

Keywords: brain functional networks; child behavior; childhood trauma; developmental trajectory; maternal depression; resting-state functional MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / psychology
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / trends*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior* / physiology
  • Child Behavior* / psychology
  • Child Development* / physiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / diagnostic imaging*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / trends
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / physiology
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Prospective Studies