Preterm Birth a Key Risk Factor for Development of Childhood Depression

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The study investigators observed that low level of urbanization was associated with a lower risk for depression.
The study investigators observed that low level of urbanization was associated with a lower risk for depression.

Children born preterm may have an increased risk for depression compared with children born full-term, according to study results published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Researchers analyzed data from 21,478 preterm children and 85,903 full-term children born between 2000 and 2010 who were included in the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. The mean ages of the preterm children and full-term children were 9.72 and 9.88 years, respectively.

Evaluation of the study population found that preterm birth was the key risk factor for depression. 

The risk of depression among preterm children was 2.75 times higher than that seen in full-term children (95% CI, 1.58–4.79; P <.001). Depression rates in full-term children were 0.37, compared with 1.01 in preterm children, per 10,000 person-years. In female preterm children, incidence of depression was 3 times higher compared with full-term children. Preterm children whose parents had blue-collar occupations had a risk for depression 3.4 times higher than full-term children in the same demographic. Preterm children whose parents had occupations other than blue-collar positions had a 6.06-fold higher risk for depression compared with full-term children in the same demographic (blue-collar occupations: 95% CI, 1.04–11.15; P <.05; other occupations: 95% CI, 1.71–21.49; P <.01).

Researchers conclude that “findings of the present study suggest that preterm infants have a significantly higher risk of depression in adolescence compared with full-term infants.” They note that limitations of the study include lack of maternal demographic data and emphasize the need for healthcare providers to recognize the potential for depression in children born prematurely.

Reference

Chiu TF, Yu TM, Chuang YW. Sequential risk of depression in children born prematurely: A nationwide population-based analysis J Affect Disord. 2018; 243:42-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.09.019

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