Depression Among Mothers and Impact on Kids

Depression among mothers is still one of the most common, but unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated complications of pregnancy, with 10-20% of women experiencing depression during pregnancy or in the first twelve months following pregnancy.  The rate for low-income or minority women may reach 40%.  The healthy development of a child can be significantly impacted by maternal depression.  At young ages, depression among mothers is associated with a child's lower level of activity and fussiness, as well as problems with social interactions and greater difficulty in achieving age appropriate developmental and cognitive milestones, as well as poor mother-child bonding/attachment, lower reading and language scores and higher incidence of later mental health issues and depression themselves. 

On a policy level, this illustrates the need for expanded health coverage for parents, particularly low-income parents.  Medicaid for low-income parents allows depression to go untreated for far too many parents.  Ohio recently expanded Medicaid coverage for pregnant women, authorized by the 2007 budget.  While eligibility is extended for those at 150-200% of the federal poverty level, coverage for parents is currently at only the 90% level.  Far more poor women could benefit from the program.

For more information, visit the Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University and find the research of Dr.Linda Lewin, Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University.