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Maternal depressive symptoms and behavior problems in preschool children from low-income families: Comparison of reports from mothers and teachers

This study compared behavior problems of children of mothers with elevated depressive symptoms and children of mothers with non-elevated depressive symptoms, using the same measure for mothers and teachers. Participants included 914 mother-teacher dyads of low-income children (M age of child =62.9 months, SD = 4.0) who participated in the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project. Mothers completed a shortened version of CES-D to evaluate their own depressive symptoms. Teachers and mothers completed the Family and Child Experiences Survey Interviews (FACES) to assess children's behavior problems. The results showed that children of mothers with elevated depressive symptoms- higher than the cut-off score for possible depression showed higher aggressive and hyperactive behaviors than did children of mothers with non-elevated depressive symptoms according to the mothers' rating; however, teachers rated the children no differently. Both mothers and teachers reported higher internalizing behaviors in children of mothers with elevated depressive symptoms than did those of mothers with non-elevated depressive symptoms. Maternal depressive symptoms moderated the relations between informants (mothers and teachers) and externalizing behaviours (aggressive and hyperactive) of children. These findings underscore the need for research in different settings such as at home and at school, to measure children's behavior problems in order to gain a more comprehensive perspective on child functioning. Results suggest an emphasis on intervention or prevention programs targeting internalizing behavior problems, specifically for children of depressed mothers in low-income families. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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