Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Preconception prediction of expectant fathers' mental health: 20-year cohort study from adolescence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2018

Elizabeth Spry
Affiliation:
Research Officer, Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, and PhD candidate, Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Geelong
Rebecca Giallo
Affiliation:
Senior Research Fellow, Healthy Mothers Healthy Families group, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne
Margarita Moreno-Betancur
Affiliation:
Postdoctoral research fellow, Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, and Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
Jacqui Macdonald
Affiliation:
Lecturer in Psychology, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, and Honorary Research Fellow, University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children's Research Institute
Denise Becker
Affiliation:
Biostatistician, Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne
Rohan Borschmann
Affiliation:
Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, and Honorary Research Fellow, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne and Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, London
Stephanie Brown
Affiliation:
Senior Principal Research Fellow and Head of the Healthy Mothers Healthy Families group, Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, and Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne
George C. Patton
Affiliation:
Professorial Fellow in Adolescent Health Research, University of Melbourne, and Senior Principal Research Fellow, National Health and Medical Research Council
Craig A. Olsson
Affiliation:
Professor and Head of the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, and Honorary Principal Research Fellow, University of Melbourne and Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Australia
Corresponding
Rights & Permissions[Opens in a new window]

Abstract

We examined prospective associations between men's common mental disorders in the decades prior to offspring conception and subsequent paternal antenatal mental health problems. Data came from a prospective intergenerational cohort study which assessed common mental disorder nine times from age 14 to 29 years, and in the third trimester of subsequent pregnancies to age 35 years (N = 295 pregnancies to 214 men). Men with histories of adolescent and young adult common mental disorders were over four times more likely to experience antenatal mental health problems. Future research identifying modifiable perinatal factors that counteract preconception risk would provide further targets for intervention.

Declaration of interest

None.

Type
Short report
Creative Commons
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2018

Mental health problems affect one in ten men during their partner's pregnancy.Reference Cameron, Sedov and Tomfohr-Madsen 1 These problems tend to persist into the postpartum periodReference Paulson, Bazemore, Goodman and Leiferman 2 , Reference Ramchandani, Stein, O'Connor, Heron, Murray and Evans 3 and predict increasing severity of maternal depression symptoms from pregnancy to postpartum;Reference Paulson, Bazemore, Goodman and Leiferman 2 in turn, paternal postpartum depression has been associated with adverse child mental health outcomes both via and independently of maternal depression.Reference Ramchandani, Stein, O'Connor, Heron, Murray and Evans 3 , Reference Gutierrez-Galve, Stein, Hanington, Heron and Ramchandani 4 Early identification of men at risk of antenatal mental health problems could inform the development of targeted intervention strategies within existing preconception and perinatal healthcare systems.Reference Frey, Navarro, Kotelchuck and Lu 5 , Reference Garfield 6 However, little is known about paternal risk factors, as prospective studies including data prior to pregnancy are scarce. Using data from a 20-year, two-generation study, we aimed to examine the extent to which common mental disorders in the decades prior to conception predicted antenatal paternal mental health problems.

Method

Participants

The Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study (VIHCS) is a prospective study of preconception predictors of child health. It arose from a cohort study commencing in 1992 in Victoria, Australia (the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study; VAHCS).Reference Patton, Coffey, Romaniuk, Mackinnon, Carlin and Degenhardt 7 A close-to-representative sample of 1943 mid-secondary school students (943 male) was selected using a two-stage sampling procedure. Participants were assessed 6-monthly during adolescence (waves 1–6: mean age 14.9–17.4 years) and three times in young adulthood (waves 7–9: 20.7, 24.1 and 29.1 years).

Between 2006 and 2013, when participants were aged 29–35 years (encompassing median paternal age for Australian births 8 ), the 1645 study members (773 male) still active in VAHCS were screened 6-monthly for participation in VIHCS. Study members were invited to complete telephone interviews in trimester three (VIHCS wave 1), 2 months' postpartum (VIHCS wave 2) and 12 months' postpartum (VIHCS wave 3) for every child born during screening. Here, we used data from male VAHCS participants who participated in VIHCS. Participants' parents or guardians provided informed written consent at VAHCS recruitment, and participants provided informed verbal consent at subsequent waves. Data collection protocols were approved by the human research ethics committee at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.

Measures

Exposure

Preconception common mental disorder was measured at VAHCS waves 1–7 using the Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS-R), with caseness defined as score ≥12 to identify mixed depression–anxiety symptoms at a level lower than major depressive or anxiety disorder, but which a general practitioner would view as clinically significant.Reference Lewis, Pelosi, Araya and Dunn 9 At VAHCS waves 8–9, we used the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) to identify symptoms of psychological distress.Reference Goldberg and Williams 10 GHQ-12 caseness was defined as standard score ≥3,Reference Goldberg, Gater, Sartorius, Ustun, Piccinelli and Gureje 11 previously found to indicate a CIS-R threshold of ≥12.Reference Lewis, Pelosi, Araya and Dunn 9 Continuity of mental disorder was defined as none, adolescent-only, young adult-only, or adolescent and young adult disorder.

Covariates

Analyses were adjusted for health risk behaviours (≥20 drinks on one day in the past week, daily smoking, and weekly cannabis use at one or more adolescent waves), Australian-born/not Australian-born, and participants' parents' education and separation/divorce status.

Outcome

Antenatal mental health was assessed at VIHCS wave 1, in trimester three of each subsequent pregnancy, using the GHQ-12.Reference Lewis, Pelosi, Araya and Dunn 9 Reference Goldberg, Gater, Sartorius, Ustun, Piccinelli and Gureje 11

Analysis

We estimated the prevalence and relative risks of paternal antenatal mental health problems stratified by continuity of preconception common mental disorder, using generalised estimating equations owing to family clustering. We included participants assessed in all phases: adolescence, young adulthood, and antenatal. Missing preconception data were addressed using multiple imputation. Most variables had fewer than 10% values missing; only four had 10–20% (common mental disorder, risky drinking, cannabis use and smoking at wave 6). Estimates were obtained by pooling results across 50 imputed data-sets using Rubin's rules.Reference Rubin 12 We used Stata 14.2. 13

Results

Supplementary Appendix A, available at https://doi.org/10/1192/bjo.2017.10, shows the flow of men through VAHCS and VIHCS. Of 332 male VAHCS participants who reported 545 pregnancies during VIHCS recruitment, 214 (65%) men participated in VIHCS with 295 (55%) pregnancies. VIHCS participants were less likely to use cannabis weekly in adolescence (P = 0.007) or be born outside Australia (P < 0.001), and more likely to have at least one parent who completed high school (P = 0.001), than those who did not participate, but did not differ on other preconception analysis variables (supplementary Appendix B).

Antenatal mental health problems were reported in 23 (10.7%, 95% CI 6.6–14.9) men and 31 (10.5%, 95% CI 7.0–14.0) pregnancies. In total, 85 (39.7%) men reported preconception common mental disorder at least once: 35 (16.4%) adolescent only; 25 (11.6%) young adult only; and 25 (11.6%) both adolescent and young adult (supplementary Appendix C).

In over two-thirds of pregnancies where men reported antenatal mental health problems, there was a history of preconception common mental disorder, compared with around one-third of those without antenatal problems (68.1% (95% CI 49.8–86.3) v. 34.3% (95% CI 28.3–40.1)). Those with preconception common mental disorder in both adolescence and young adulthood had the greatest risk of antenatal mental health problems (adjusted RR (aRR) 4.60, 95% CI 1.71–12.35), and those with common mental disorder in young adulthood only were also at increased risk (aRR 3.75, 95% CI 1.37–10.22) (Table 1).

Table 1 Estimated associations between preconception continuity of common mental disorder and mental health problems in the third trimester of 295 pregnancies to 214 men

Estimates were obtained from imputed data. Frequency estimates were calculated using imputed percentage estimates and total number of pregnancies. Preconception common mental disorder at waves 1–7 defined as Revised Clinical Interview Schedule score ≥12 and at waves 8–9 defined as General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) score ≥3. Antenatal mental health problems defined as GHQ score ≥3. RR, risk ratio.

a. Model adjusted for health risk behaviours (≥20 drinks on one day in the path week, daily smoking, and weekly cannabis use) at one or more adolescent waves, country of birth, and participants' parents' education and separation/divorce status.

Men with a history of persistent common mental disorder from adolescence to young adulthood did not go on to experience mental health problems in 23 (72.1%, 95% CI 55.4–88.9) pregnancies. For ten (31.9%, 95% CI 14.4–49.4) of the 31 pregnancies during which men reported antenatal mental health problems, there was no history of preconception common mental disorder.

Discussion

Overall, one in ten men reported antenatal mental health problems, similar to a recent meta-analytic estimate of third-trimester prevalence of 9%.Reference Cameron, Sedov and Tomfohr-Madsen 1 In over two-thirds of these pregnancies, there was a history of common mental disorder prior to conception. Our findings suggest that mental health problems in the transition to parenthood are often a continuation or recurrence of persistent or recent preconception problems.

Nearly three-quarters of men with preconception common mental disorders did not experience antenatal mental health problems. This may reflect the natural resolution of mental health problems for some men during young adulthood.Reference Patton, Coffey, Romaniuk, Mackinnon, Carlin and Degenhardt 7 Previous research has found that, overall, men's mental health does not worsen from preconception to expectant fatherhood.Reference Leach, Mackinnon, Poyser and Fairweather-Schmidt 14 , Reference Leach, Olesen, Butterworth and Poyser 15 Our findings are consistent in that overall prevalence was similar across the preconception and antenatal windows (supplementary Appendix C), but the lack of prior history in one-third of antenatal cases suggests that risks are heightened for some. Other factors may increase or mitigate risk, including physical health and perceived stress,Reference Underwood, Waldie, Peterson, D'Souza, Verbiest and McDaid 16 partner's mental health,Reference Cameron, Sedov and Tomfohr-Madsen 1 partner conflict, and social support.Reference Wee, Skouteris, Pier, Richardson and Milgrom 17

Strengths of this study include the prospective two-generational design, and repeated assessment of common mental disorder across adolescence and young adulthood. Our sample size was small, and results may not be generalisable to trimesters one and two, or to younger and older fathers. Attrition and non-response may have affected results. We used multiple imputation to address biases due to missing VAHCS data. This would not have addressed differential recruitment to VIHCS; nonetheless, prevalence of adolescent common mental disorder did not differ between VIHCS participants and non-participants. We did not use diagnostic measures and our estimates of association are likely to be conservative, as greater continuity might be expected for more severe disorders.

A number of countries have moved to implement or improve maternal mental health screening antenatally, but fathers have yet to be systematically included.Reference Rominov, Pilkington, Giallo and Whelan 18 Given that risk for antenatal mental health problems is high for men with a persistent or proximal preconception history, an opportunity exists during pregnancy and the perinatal period to identify and support fathers with pre-existing vulnerability. Particularly in light of men's disinclination to proactively seek help for mental health problems,Reference Isacco, Hofscher and Molloy 19 early intervention to improve adolescent mental health may also yield benefits for their own continuing mental health and that of future generations.Reference Garfield 6

Funding

This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council; Australian Rotary Health; Colonial Foundation; Perpetual Trustees; Financial Markets Foundation for Children (Australia); Royal Children's Hospital Foundation; Murdoch Children's Research Institute; Australian Postgraduate Award to E.S.; and the Australian Research Council. Research at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute is supported by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Program.

Acknowledgements

We thank the families who have participated in the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study and the Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study, and the study research team involved in the collection and management of Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study data.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material is available online at https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2017.10.

Footnotes

*

Joint senior authors.

References

1 Cameron, EE, Sedov, ID, Tomfohr-Madsen, LM. Prevalence of paternal depression in pregnancy and the postpartum: an updated meta-analysis. J Affect Disord 2016; 206: 189203.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
2 Paulson, JF, Bazemore, SD, Goodman, JH, Leiferman, JA. The course and interrelationship of maternal and paternal perinatal depression. Arch Womens Ment Health 2016; 19(4): 655–63.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
3 Ramchandani, PG, Stein, A, O'Connor, TG, Heron, J, Murray, L, Evans, J. Depression in men in the postnatal period and later child psychopathology: a population cohort study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2008; 47(4): 390–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
4 Gutierrez-Galve, L, Stein, A, Hanington, L, Heron, J, Ramchandani, P. Paternal depression in the postnatal period and child development: mediators and moderators. Pediatrics 2015; 135(2): e33947.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
5 Frey, KA, Navarro, SM, Kotelchuck, M, Lu, MC. The clinical content of preconception care: preconception care for men. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2008; 199(6): S38995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
6 Garfield, CF. Supporting fatherhood before and after it happens. Pediatrics 2015; 135(2): e52830.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
7 Patton, GC, Coffey, C, Romaniuk, H, Mackinnon, A, Carlin, JB, Degenhardt, L, et al. The prognosis of common mental disorders in adolescents: a 14-year prospective cohort study. Lancet 2014; 383(9926): 1404–11.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
8 Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3301.0 – Births, Australia, 2012 (Latest issue 24/10/2013). ABS, 2013.Google Scholar
9 Lewis, G, Pelosi, AJ, Araya, R, Dunn, G. Measuring psychiatric disorder in the community: a standardized assessment for use by lay interviewers. Psychol Med 1992; 22(2): 465–86.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
10 Goldberg, DP, Williams, PA. A User's Guide to the General Health Questionnaire. NFER-Nelson, 1988.Google Scholar
11 Goldberg, DP, Gater, R, Sartorius, N, Ustun, TB, Piccinelli, M, Gureje, O, et al. The validity of two versions of the GHQ in the WHO study of mental illness in general health care. Psychol Med 1997; 27(01): 191–7.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
12 Rubin, DB. Multiple Imputation for Nonresponse in Surveys. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
13 StataCorp. Stata Statistical Software: Release 14. StataCorp LP, 2015.Google Scholar
14 Leach, LS, Mackinnon, A, Poyser, C, Fairweather-Schmidt, AK. Depression and anxiety in expectant and new fathers: longitudinal findings in Australian men. Br J Psychiatry 2015; 206(6): 471–8.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
15 Leach, LS, Olesen, SC, Butterworth, P, Poyser, C. New fatherhood and psychological distress: a longitudinal study of Australian men. Am J Epidemiol 2014; 180(6): 582–9.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
16 Underwood, L, Waldie, KE, Peterson, E, D'Souza, S, Verbiest, M, McDaid, F, et al. Paternal depression symptoms during pregnancy and after childbirth among participants in the Growing Up in New Zealand study. JAMA Psychiatry 2017; 74(4): 110.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
17 Wee, KY, Skouteris, H, Pier, C, Richardson, B, Milgrom, J. Correlates of ante- and postnatal depression in fathers: a systematic review. J Affect Disord 2011; 130(3): 358–77.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
18 Rominov, H, Pilkington, PD, Giallo, R, Whelan, TA. A systematic review of interventions targeting paternal mental health in the perinatal period. Infant Ment Health J 2016; 37(3): 289301.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
19 Isacco, A, Hofscher, R, Molloy, S. An examination of fathers’ mental health help seeking: a brief report. Am J Mens Health 2016; 10(6): NP338.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

Spry et al. supplementary material

Spry et al. supplementary material 1

PDF 58 KB
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 208
Total number of PDF views: 518 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 05th March 2018 - 23rd January 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Access
Open access
Hostname: page-component-76cb886bbf-r88h9 Total loading time: 1.041 Render date: 2021-01-23T12:04:45.960Z Query parameters: { "hasAccess": "1", "openAccess": "1", "isLogged": "0", "lang": "en" } Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false }

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Preconception prediction of expectant fathers' mental health: 20-year cohort study from adolescence
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Preconception prediction of expectant fathers' mental health: 20-year cohort study from adolescence
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Preconception prediction of expectant fathers' mental health: 20-year cohort study from adolescence
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *