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Take care Mother! Because your depression can adversely affect your child's IQ

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 17 April 2018, 18:19 IST

Everyone should be taking care of their health. Stress and depression can really affect you and a new study reveals that when a mother's depression increases, it can negatively affect a child's development up to the age of 16.

The findings were published in the journal Child Development, suggest that early identification and treatment of maternal depression is the key healthy growth of her children.

Approximately, 900 healthy children were surveyed by the researchers and their mothers living in Santiago, Chile, at five-year intervals from the child's infancy through age 16.

It was observed that how affectionate and responsive mothers were to their children at each age period, as well as how much mothers provided age-appropriate learning materials.

Children were assessed on verbal cognitive abilities using standardised IQ tests during each assessment. Mothers were tested for symptoms of depression.


"We found that mothers who were highly depressed didn't invest emotionally or in providing learning materials to support their child, such as toys and books, as much as mothers who were not depressed.

"This, in turn, impacted the child's IQ at ages one, five, 10 and 16," said Patricia East from University of California San Diego School of Medicine in the United States.

"The consistency and longevity of these results speak to the enduring effect that depression has on a mother's parenting and her child's development," she added.

The research was done on a scale from one to 19, the average verbal IQ score for all children in the study at age five was 7.64.

Kids who had severely depressed mothers were found to have an average verbal IQ score of 7.30. It was compared to the score of 7.78 in children without depressed mothers.



"Although seemingly small, differences in IQ from 7.78 to 7.30 are highly meaningful in terms of children's verbal skills and vocabulary," said East.

"Our study results show the long-term consequences that a child can experience due to chronic maternal depression," she added.

The study suggested around 20 per cent of mothers who are depressed when their child turns age one remain depressed for a long duration.

"For healthcare providers, the results show that early identification, intervention, and treatment of maternal depression are key," said East.

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First published: 17 April 2018, 18:19 IST