Maternal depression and the development of conduct disorder in children

There is a strong association between maternal depression and the development of conduct disorder in children. This study, published in Psychology, examined the impact of maternal depression on treatment to prevent child conduct disorder. There are a number of skill deficits commonly associated with depression that have also been shown to describe parents of conduct problem children. These include poor problem solving and an inability to recall specific events.

The researchers analysed the problem using data from a randomised controlled trial of a parenting programme for parents of high-risk three- and four-year-old children. They found that improvement in maternal depression was a significant partial mediator of improvement in child behaviour. This implies that parenting interventions for the prevention of conduct disorder are more likely to improve child behaviour if they also address the skill deficits associated with maternal depression.

Source: Improvements in maternal depression as a mediator of child behavioral change (2012), Psychology, 3(9)