Children of mothers who suffer post-natal depression are at a greatly increased risk of suffering from depression themselves compared to their peers, researchers from the University of Reading have claimed.

The scientists found that by the age of 16, 41.5 per cent of children whose mothers had suffered post-natal depression had also experienced depression - compared to just 12.5 per cent of their peers.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, also found that children whose attachment to their mothers was insecure during infancy were more likely to go on to suffer depression. Marital breakdown and maternal depression beyond the post-natal period also influenced the rates of childhood depression.

Professor Lynne Murray said: "At least one-third of people experience a major depressive episode during their lifetime, and for many individuals the experience is persistent.

"Understanding the development of depression is, therefore, an important public health issue.

"This is especially true when first onset occurs in the school-age years, as such episodes are associated with particularly poor outcome in terms of severity, chronicity, and recurrence."

Posted by Robert Mair on 20.6.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com  

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