Temporal effects of maternal psychological distress on child mental health problems at ages 3, 5, 7 and 11: analysis from the UK Millennium Cohort Study

Hope, S., Pearce, A. , Chittleborough, C., Deighton, J., Maika, A., Micali, N., Mittinty, M., Law, C. and Lynch, J. (2019) Temporal effects of maternal psychological distress on child mental health problems at ages 3, 5, 7 and 11: analysis from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Psychological Medicine, 49(4), pp. 664-674. (doi:10.1017/S0033291718001368) (PMID:29886852) (PMCID:PMC6378410)

Hope, S., Pearce, A. , Chittleborough, C., Deighton, J., Maika, A., Micali, N., Mittinty, M., Law, C. and Lynch, J. (2019) Temporal effects of maternal psychological distress on child mental health problems at ages 3, 5, 7 and 11: analysis from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Psychological Medicine, 49(4), pp. 664-674. (doi:10.1017/S0033291718001368) (PMID:29886852) (PMCID:PMC6378410)

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Abstract

Background: Psychological distress is common among women of childbearing age, and limited longitudinal research suggests prolonged exposure to maternal distress is linked to child mental health problems. Estimating effects of maternal distress over time is difficult due to potential influences of child mental health problems on maternal distress and time-varying confounding by family circumstances. Methods: We analysed the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative sample with data collected throughout childhood. Adopting a marginal structural modelling framework, we investigated effects of exposure to medium/high levels of maternal psychological distress (Kessler-6 score 8+) on child mental health problems (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire borderline/abnormal behaviour cut-off) using maternal and child mental health data at 3, 5, 7 and 11 years, accounting for the influence of child mental health on subsequent maternal distress, and baseline and time-varying confounding. Results: Prior and concurrent exposures to maternal distress were associated with higher levels of child mental health problems at ages 3, 5, 7 and 11 years. For example, elevated risks of child mental health problems at 11 years were associated with exposure to maternal distress from 3 years [risk ratio (RR) 1.27 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08–1.49)] to 11 years [RR 2.15 (95% CI 1.89–2.45)]. Prolonged exposure to maternal distress at ages 3, 5, 7 and 11 resulted in an almost fivefold increased risk of child mental health problems. Conclusions: Prior, concurrent and, particularly, prolonged exposure to maternal distress raises risks for child mental health problems. Greater support for mothers experiencing distress is likely to benefit the mental health of their children.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Dr Steven Hope was supported by a grant from the Department of Health (funded through the Children’s Policy Research Unit; funder reference 10090001) for this work. Professor John Lynch was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Centre of Research Excellence (1099422), and a Partnership Project Grant (1016281). Dr Jessica Deighton was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North Thames at Bart’s Health NHS Trust. Research at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children receives a proportion of the funding from the Department of Health’s National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centres funding scheme. The Millennium Cohort Study is funded by grants to former and current directors of the study from the Economic and Social Research Council (Professor Heather Joshi, Professor Lucinda Platt and Professor Emla Fitzsimons) and a consortium of government funders.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pearce, Dr Anna
Authors: Hope, S., Pearce, A., Chittleborough, C., Deighton, J., Maika, A., Micali, N., Mittinty, M., Law, C., and Lynch, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Journal Name:Psychological Medicine
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0033-2917
ISSN (Online):1469-8978
Published Online:11 June 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in Psychological Medicine 49(4): 664-674
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
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