BACKGROUND: Symptoms of maternal postnatal depression are associated with an increased risk of adverse effects on child development. However, some children exposed to postnatal depression have outcomes similar to unexposed children, and can be referred to as resilient. This study aimed to determine the mechanisms of resilience in children exposed to depressive symptoms postnatally.
METHOD: Data are from a prospective cohort study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Self-report questionnaire data were collected during pregnancy and the child's first 2 years regarding maternal views of parenting and her perception of the child. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was completed postnatally at 8 months and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at age 11 years. Exposed children who scored above the median score of non-exposed children were defined as resilient. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate the development of resilience.
RESULTS: From the core ALSPAC cohort, 1,009 children (6.9%) were exposed to maternal depression at 8 months postnatally. The SDQ total difficulties scores at 11 years of age indicated that 325 (32.2%) were resilient, 684 were non-resilient. Maternal positive feelings about parenting and child non-verbal communication at 15 months increased the likelihood of later resilience.
CONCLUSIONS: In this study, resilience was associated with two factors: the child's nonverbal communication at 15 months and by maternal positive feelings about parenting. Early intervention to support mother-child interaction and foster child development in women identified with postnatal depressive symptoms may benefit later child resilience.