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Maternal depression and the development of executive function and behavior problems in Head Start: Indirect effects through parenting

The present study used a large, nationally representative sample of Head Start children (N=3,349) from the Family and Child Experiences Survey of 2009 (FACES) to examine associations among maternal depression (measured when children were ~36 months old) and children's executive function (EF) and behavior problems (measured when children were ~48 months old). Preliminary analyses revealed that 36% of mothers in the sample had clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms. Furthermore, a path analysis with demographic controls showed a mediation effect that was significant and quite specific; mother-reported warmth (and not mother-child reading) mediated the path between maternal depression, children's EF, and behavior problems. Findings provide empirical support for a family process model in which warm, sensitive parenting supports children's emerging self-regulation and reduces the likelihood of early onset behavior problems in families in which children are exposed to maternal depression. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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