Fathers’ Postnatal Depression Linked With Depression in Daughters Years Later

January 7, 2019

Fathers’ depression during the postnatal period was associated with depression in their daughters 18 years later, researchers from the United Kingdom found in a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Maternal depression 8 months after childbirth and conduct disorder in the early childhood of offspring partially explained the risk of transmission of depression.

“These findings highlight the importance of recognizing and treating depression in fathers during the postnatal period and considering both parents when 1 parent presents with depression,” the authors of the study wrote.

New Dads Need Depression Screening, Too

The prospective cohort study involved 3176 father-offspring pairs from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in the United Kingdom. The fathers, who had an average age of 29.6 years at their offspring’s delivery, were assessed for depression at 8 weeks postpartum.

“Our findings indicate that adolescent offspring of fathers who have depression during the postnatal period are at increased risk of experiencing depression symptoms at age 18 years, even after paternal age and education had been controlled for,” the study team wrote. “The effect size is small, but it is still significant after 18 years of follow-up time.”

Maternal depression at 8 months postpartum explained one-fifth of the association, and offsprings’ conduct problems at age 3.5 years explained one-tenth of it, the study found.

Conflict within couples and fathers’ involvement with their children did not affect the risk of transmission of depression.

—Terri Airov


Gutierrez-Galve L, Stein A, Hanington L, et al. Association of maternal and paternal depression in the postnatal period with offspring depression at age 18 years. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 December 26;[Epub ahead of print].