21-02-2018 | Original Article
Sensitive Fathering Buffers the Effects of Chronic Maternal Depression on Child Psychopathology
Gepubliceerd in: Child Psychiatry & Human Development | Uitgave 5/2018Log in om toegang te krijgen
Maternal depression across the first years of life carries long-term negative consequences for children’s well-being; yet, few studies focused on fathers as potential source of resilience in the context of chronic maternal depression. Utilizing an extreme-case design, a community birth cohort of married/cohabitating mothers (N = 1983) with no comorbid risk was repeatedly tested for maternal depression across the first year and again at 6 years, leading to two matched cohorts; 46 mothers with chronic depression and 103 non-depressed controls. At 6 years, mother and child underwent psychiatric diagnosis and mother–child and father–child interactions observed. Partners of depressed mothers exhibited reduced sensitivity, lower reciprocity, and higher tension during interactions, particularly among children with psychopathology. Maternal depression increased child propensity to display Axis-I disorder upon school-entry by fourfold. Sensitive fathering reduced this risk by half. Findings underscore the father’s resilience-promoting role in cases of maternal depression and emphasize the need for father-focused interventions.