Objective: This study aims to determine if there is a relationship between antenatal depression and maternal depression in the following three to four years. Secondly, to establish if there is a relationship between maternal depression and behavioural problems with the pre-school child. Thirdly, to investigate if social parameters are correlated with maternal health and childhood behaviour.
Method: In a longitudinal study, a sample of women were screened for depression at the antenatal stage and followed up four years later. Mothers were screened for depressive illness on both occasions. Children's behaviour was assessed at four years. Social parameters were also measured at the pre-school stage.
Result: Depression at the antenatal stage was not found to be significantly related to depression at the pre-school stage. The existence of a behaviour problem was not significantly related to the depressive state of the mother antenatally, however a currently depressed mother is approximately six times more likely to have a child with behaviour problems than a mother who is not depressed. Social factors were also assessed and found to correlate with maternal depression.
Conclusion: In managing a child with behavioural problems the child psychiatrist should consider the mental state of the mother. The social world of the individual would appear to be important and should not be ignored when treating either a child with behavioural problems or an adult with depression.