has well-documented effects on the mental and physical well-being of
children, but less research has been conducted on how depressed
fathers affect children. A new study, “Paternal Mental Health and Depressive Symptoms and Child Behavioral or Emotional Problems in the USA” in the December 2011 Pediatrics
(published online Nov. 7), found that children who live with fathers
with depressive symptoms and other mental health problems are more
likely to have emotional or behavioral problems themselves. The study,
conducted by researchers at New York University School of Medicine,
looked at nearly 22,000 children living in two-parent households.
Study authors found that the risks of child emotional or behavioral
problems are much greater if mothers, rather than fathers, have such
problems. Having two parents with depressive symptoms was associated
with a dramatically increased rate – 25 percent – of children with
emotional or behavioral problems, as compared to 6 percent of children
who had neither a mother nor a father with depressive symptoms. In
homes where the father alone had such symptoms, 11 percent of children
did, too, and in homes where the mother had symptoms, the rate among
children was 19 percent. Study authors conclude that work is needed to
develop ways to identify fathers with mental health problems.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children,
adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.