Patterns of Maternal Distress from Pregnancy Through Childhood Predict Psychopathology During Early Adolescence

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Capitalizing on a longitudinal cohort followed from gestation through adolescence (201 mother–child dyads), we investigate the contributions of severity and stability of both maternal depressive and perceived stress symptoms to adolescent psychopathology. Maternal depressive and perceived stress trajectories from pregnancy through adolescence were identified with latent class growth analyses, and associations with adolescent internalizing and externalizing symptoms were examined. For both depression and stress, the most common trajectory group comprised mothers displaying stable and low symptom levels over time, and adolescents of these mothers had the fewest internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Maternal membership to one or more aberrant trajectory groups predicted higher levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, determined by both maternal and adolescent self-report. This study indicates that profiles of multiple indicators of maternal psychopathology assessed across childhood, beginning prenatally, can provide critical additional insight into child psychopathology risk.


This article was originally published in Child Psychiatry & Human Development in 2021.

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