OBJECTIVE: The impacts of postnatal psychiatric disorders on different types of mental health problems in offspring are unclear. We investigated the prospective associations of maternal postnatal depression, and anxiety, with offspring depression, anxiety, psychotic-like experiences and Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms, in adolescence, and examined whether these were independent of each other.
METHODS: Data were obtained from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort. Maternal postnatal depression and anxiety at 8 weeks were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and Crown-Crisp Index, respectively. Offspring mental health outcomes were measured at 10-13 years old, using a variety of questionnaire-based and interview assessments. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess the associations between maternal postnatal risk factors and offspring mental health, and path analysis was used to investigate the pathways of maternal postnatal factors to adolescent offspring outcomes.
RESULTS: Data were available for 14,054 mothers with information reported on postnatal depression and 13,892 on postnatal anxiety. Logistic regression analyses found significant associations between maternal postnatal depression and offspring anxiety at 10 years old (odds ratio = 1.039, 95% confidence interval = [1.005, 1.073], p = 0.022) and between maternal postnatal anxiety and offspring psychotic experiences at 12/13 years old (odds ratio = 1.042, 95% confidence interval = [1.008, 1.077], p = 0.016). These significant associations remained after applying path analyses, when we controlled for potential offspring psychopathological overlay.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that mothers with postnatal depression are more likely to have offspring with anxiety at 10 years old, and that mothers with postnatal anxiety are more likely to have offspring with psychotic experiences at 12/13 years old. Our findings suggest specific pathways in the association between postnatal anxiety/depression and offspring mental health and contribute to the importance of identifying mothers and their offspring with increased vulnerability to adverse outcomes resulting from postnatal mental health disorders.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: The UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (grant reference no. 217065/Z/19/Z) and the University of Bristol currently provide core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors, and I.M.-M., B.A.-D., E.B., C.C., C.P. and S.M. will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper.
© The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2022.
- Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children
- postnatal depression
- postnatal anxiety
- mental health