Familial factors may mediate the association between pre- and perinatal factors and the psychopathology of offspring, according to data published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Researchers used data from the preexisting Oregon Adolescent Depression Project; data on pre- and perinatal events were extracted by questionnaire from the biological mothers of 315 participants. Participants themselves had begun the study between ages 14 and 18 years and were followed up until age 30 years. Participants were 61% (n=191) women and 89% (n=279) white; mean age for mothers at childbirth was 24.9 (standard deviation, 4.6) years. Researchers captured family cohesion, mother’s social support, and father’s social support as familial factors.

In the initial analysis, maternal obstetric history and illness during the first year were significant predictors of offspring anxiety disorder, with unadjusted odds ratio (95% CI) values of 1.96 (1.08-3.56) and 2.40 (1.41-4.08), respectively. Affective disorder was correlated with maternal emotional health (OR, 2.10; 95% CI, 1.10-4.00), and difficult delivery (OR, 4.30; 95% CI, 1.25-14.84) and breastfeeding (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.38-1.75) predicted disruptive disorder.

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However, after adjusting for family cohesion scores, maternal obstetric history and emotional health were no longer significantly correlated with anxiety or affective disorder. After adjusting for family factors, maternal substance use was associated with substance use disorder in offspring (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.24-3.38; P <.01). Illness during first year and difficult delivery were still associated with anxiety disorder and affective disorder, respectively, in the final model (both P <.01).

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The investigators noted that their analyses could be subject to recall bias, given the nature of report-based data collection. Still, these data indicate that specific programs for addressing maternal health and family cohesion may be effective in improving long-term psychological outcomes for both mothers and their offspring.


Essau CA, Sasagawa S, Lewinsohn PM, Rohde P. The impact of pre- and perinatal factors on psychopathology in adulthood [published online April 21, 2018]. J Affect Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2018.04.088