Studies of parental
depression usually focus on mothers, but depression in fathers can also
negatively affect a young child’s health and development.
study, “Fathers’ Depression Related to Positive and Negative Parenting Behaviors With 1-Year-Old Children,” published in the April print issue of Pediatrics (published
online March 14), depression in fathers was associated with certain
parenting behaviors commonly discussed at well-child visits.
Researchers studied data from 1,746 fathers of 1-year-old children in
the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.
Overall, 7 percent of
fathers had depression. Compared to non-depressed fathers, depressed
fathers were nearly four times more likely to report spanking their
child, and less likely to report reading regularly to their child. In
contrast, most depressed and non-depressed fathers reported regularly
playing games and singing or talking to their child, suggesting that
these activities may be more routine behaviors for fathers than
reading. Because 77 percent of depressed fathers reported talking to
their child’s pediatrician in the previous year, visits to the
pediatrician may provide an ideal opportunity to discuss specific
parenting behaviors and refer depressed fathers for appropriate
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.