Maternal depression and anxiety predicts the pattern of offspring symptoms during their transition to adulthood

H Gonçalves, Rebecca M Pearson, B L Horta, D A González-Chica, E Castilho, M Damiani, R C Lima, D P Gigante, Fernando C. Barros, Alan Stein, C G Victora

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BACKGROUND: Episodes of depression and anxiety (D&A) during the transition from late adolescence to adulthood, particularly when persistent, are predictive of long-term disorders and associated public health burden. Understanding risk factors at this time is important to guide intervention. The current objective was to investigate the associations between maternal symptoms of D&A with offspring symptoms during their transition to adulthood.

METHOD: Data from a large population-based birth cohort study, in South Brazil, were used. Prospective associations between maternal D&A and offspring risk of these symptoms during the transition to adulthood (18/19, 24 and 30 years) were estimated.

RESULTS: Maternal D&A in adolescence was associated with offspring symptoms across the transition to adulthood, associations were consistently stronger for females than for males. Daughters whose mothers reported D&A were 4.6 times (95% confidence interval 2.71-7.84) as likely to report D&A at all three time-points, than daughters of symptom-free mothers.

CONCLUSIONS: Maternal D&A is associated with persistent D&A during the daughter's transition to adulthood. Intervention strategies should consider the mother's mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-424
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date12 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • cohort study
  • common mental disorder
  • intergenerational
  • mental health
  • offspring


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