At the population level, exposure to maternal depression and parental intimate partner violence before 12 years of age predict depression in adolescence, but these factors are poor predictors at the individual level. These findings were published in JAMA Network Open.
Data for this study were sourced from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (N=14,541), a population-based birth cohort study conducted in England. The outcome of interest for this study was depression by 18 years of age, assessed using the Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (SMFQ) and Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised (CIS-R) instruments. Adolescent depression was defined as an SMFQ score less than 10 or CIS-R score greater than 11. Parental (male-to-female) intimate partner violence was defined as physical or emotional cruelty from the partner to the mother any time between the child’s birth and 11 years of age; this was self-reported via questionnaires administered to mothers at 8 timepoints in the first 11 years of the child’s life.
Of the 5029 participants included in the study, 56.9% were women, 95.7% were White, the mean (SD) mother’s age at child’s birth was 29.75 (4.57) years, 84.6% of children were born into a mortgaged or owned home, 75.5% of mothers were in their first marriage when the child was 1 year of age, and the mean (SD) financial difficulty score at 1 year of age was 2.38 (SD, 3.23).
At 18 years of age, 22.0% of individuals fit the criteria for depression according to the SMFQ and 15.6% according to the CIS-R. Rates of depression according to both instruments were higher for adolescents who were exposed to maternal depression and intimate partner violence (SMFQ, 34.3%; 95% CI, 28.8%-39.7% and CIS-R, 24.2%; 95% CI, 19.1%-29.4%) than those who were not exposed (SMFQ, 18.2%; 95% CI, 16.3%-20.0% and CIS-R, 12.1%; 95% CI, 10.5%-13.7%).
After adjusting for cofounders, at the population level, increased risk for depression according to the SMFQ was associated with both maternal depression and intimate partner violence (adjusted risk ratio [aRR], 1.68; 95% CI, 1.34-2.10) and maternal depression alone (aRR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.11-1.64) compared with neither maternal depression and intimate partner violence. According to the CIS-R, increased risk for depression was associated with maternal depression and intimate partner violence (aRR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.26-2.26), maternal depression alone (aRR, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.24-1.92), and intimate partner violence alone (aRR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.03-1.84) compared with neither maternal depression or intimate partner violence.
At the individual level, depression defined using the SMFQ was observed among 9.8% of young adults who had a mother who experienced intimate partner violence, 25.1% who had a mother with depression, 16.5% who had a mother who experienced both, and 48.6% who had a mother who experienced neither condition. Trends were similar when depression was defined using CIS-R. Using maternal depression and intimate partner violence to predict depression at 18 years of age had an area under the curve of 0.58 using SMFQ and 0.59 using CIS-R. “This indicates a 58% to 59% probability (ie, 8% to 9% above chance) that a random participant who had depression at age of 18 years had an experience of either or both IPV and maternal depression than a random participant who did not have depression.”
Study authors concluded, “[P]arental IPV [intimate partner violence] or maternal depression before age 12 years affects 38.8% of children and, at the population level, is associated with depression in adolescence. However, the ability to estimate whether an individual develops depression in adolescence on the basis of only on the information from maternally reported parental IPV [intimate partner violence] or depression is poor.”
Gondek D, Howe LD, Gilbert R, et al. Association of interparental violence and maternal depression with depression among adolescents at the population and individual level. JAMA Netw Open. Published online March 1, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.1175