Impact of Maternal Depression on Child Health-Related Quality of Life

three kids backs looking out a window
three kids backs looking out a window
Maternal history of depression may be associated with child health-related quality of life.

A recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that maternal history of depression may be associated with child health-related quality of life, possibly as a result of maternal stress and sensitivity.

To evaluate the impact of maternal history of depression and maternal early life maltreatment on children, researchers recruited 194 cohabiting mother and child (age 5-12 years) pairs. Maternal participants were either in remission after at least 1 episode of major depression, had experienced early life maltreatment (with or without a later episode of major depression), or were considered healthy controls.

Parental proxy rating and child self-rating scores were obtained using the KIDSCREEN- 27 questionnaire for the 5 dimensions of health-related quality of life (Physical Well- being, Psychological Well-being, Autonomy & Parent Relation, Peers & Social Support, and School Environment) and the KIDSCREEN-10 questionnaire for global assessment of health-related quality of life. Maternal stress and sensitivity were evaluated as mediators of the child’s health-related quality of life.

The researchers found that a maternal history of depression, but not of early life maltreatment, had a significant impact on child global health-related quality of life. Among the 5 health-related quality of life domains, maternal history of depression also had a significant impact on Physical Well-being (child rating), Autonomy & Parent Relation (child and maternal ratings), and School Environment (child and maternal ratings).

Both parenting stress and maternal sensitivity were correlated with maternal history of depression. Furthermore, stress and sensitivity were considered to be the primary mediators of the impact of maternal depression on health-related quality of life.

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The study authors concluded that “even though the mothers included in our study were fully remitted from depression, children showed reduced quality of life,” which the researchers attributed to parenting stress and sensitivity.


Dittrich K, Fuchs A, Bermpohl F, et al. Effects of maternal history of depression and early life maltreatment on children’s health-related quality of life. J Affect Disord. 2017;225:280-288.