Maternal depression has devastating effects on the mental and physical health of children. An obvious first step to solving this social and public health problem is to determine the effects of treatment of maternal depression on children. This proposal captures a unique opportunity to study the influence of treating maternal depression on children ages 5-11 by studying children of women taking part in an NIMH-funded randomized treatment of a depression trial led by the Co-Principal Investigator. Furthermore, this study fills gaps in the literature on the impact of maternal depression in three ways, by studying: 1) children of women screened while obtaining public sector family planning care, a sample more representative of depressed women than previous studies in psychiatric settings; 2) poor women; and 3) equal numbers of Latina, African American and White women so that cultural differences can be examined. Based on a comprehensive model of the mechanisms by which maternal depression may influence child outcomes, we will study 150 elementary-school aged children whose mothers are depressed (50 Latina, 50 African American, and 50 White) and 50 comparable children whose mothers are not depressed. Their mental health and functioning will be assessed by natural raters in their environments over a two-year time period, with five face-to-face interviews, two mother-child interaction assessments, and bi-monthly phone assessments that will link child functioning, symptomatology, and psychiatric disorders to mothers' symptomatology, parenting behavior, and family environment. Mothers, the children, fathers/other caregivers, teachers, and interviewers will contribute to these assessments in a time-series design. This design will enable us to develop sensitive longitudinal models of the way in which changes in aspects of the mother's depression affect the outcomes of the child over time.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-CRB-W (09))
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Ringeisen, Heather
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Johns Hopkins University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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