A recent study published in the Nov. 30th issue of Injury Prevention has found a clear connection between mothers with persistent elevated levels of depression and injuries among their children. According to Kieran Phelan, M.D. of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, these injuries to children may be due to the tendency of mothers with depression to not provide adequate supervision for their children. For instance, mothers that are depressed may be more likely to leave electrical outlets uncovered, to not properly secure their children during commutes, or to not have batteries in their smoke detectors. The study found the highest rates of injury at home to be among children ages six and younger. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the study’s findings:
To examine that issue, they analyzed data on a subset of 1,106 mother-child pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which has tracked a cohort of women and children from birth since 1986.
Maternal depressive symptoms were measured in 1992 by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Child behavior was assessed by the Behavior Problems Index externalizing subscale. The relationship between depressive symptoms, child behavior, and injury reported in the prior year in 1994 was studied by logistic regression analysis.
To reduce the likelihood that a child’s injury may have contributed to the mother’s depressive symptoms, the researchers excluded any child who had a medically attended injury in the year before 1992. Half of the children were boys, and almost 80% were from families with two or more children.
In total, 94 medically attended injuries were reported among 1,106 children (8.5%), of which two-thirds happened in the home environment.
Maternal depressive symptoms significantly increased the risk of child injury. Children of mothers with high and persistent depressive symptoms were more than twice as likely to be injured as children of mothers who did not have high depressive symptoms (adjusted OR: 2.10, 95% CI: 1.19 to 3.72).