• maternal prenatal depression;
  • child cognition;
  • child visual motor abilities


Tse AC, Rich-Edwards JW, Rifas-Shiman SL, Gillman MW, Oken E. Association of maternal prenatal depressive symptoms with child cognition at age 3 years. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2010; 24: 232–240.

We examined the association of prenatal depressive symptoms at mid-pregnancy with child cognition at age 3 years in Project Viva, a pre-birth cohort study of 1030 mother–child pairs in eastern Massachusetts. We measured maternal depressive symptoms using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), a self-report measure validated for use during pregnancy. Measures of child cognition included the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) and the Wide Range Achievement of Visual Motor Abilities (WRAVMA).

At mid-pregnancy, 81 mothers (7.9%) scored 13 or above on the EPDS, indicating probable depression. In the unadjusted model, children born to mothers with prenatal depressive symptoms had PPVT scores that were 3.8 points lower [95% confidence interval (CI) −7.1, −0.5]. With adjustment for sociodemographic variables, the association substantially attenuated [adjusted regression coefficient b for PPVT score = −0.7 (95% CI −3.6, 2.3)]. In both unadjusted and multivariable models, prenatal depressive symptoms were not associated with WRAVMA scores [adjusted b for total WRAVMA score = −0.5 (95% CI −3.0, 2.1)]. We found no evidence to suggest that maternal prenatal depression is independently associated with early child cognition.