• Depression;
  • mothers;
  • multi-ethnic;
  • infants and preschoolers;
  • behavioural problems

Abstract— In a cohort of 99 families with a newborn infant in a multi-ethnic poor socio-economic municipality 35 mothers were depressed during the first year. While the clinical manifestations of depression in Australian-born and immigrant mothers were similar, there were differences in some aetiological factors. Immigrant mothers who had recently arrived in Australia, were unable to speak English and did not have a supporting social network had a significantly higher rate of depression. Depressed Australian-born mothers often had unhappy, unstable and insecure childhoods, having been reared in families with marital disruption, violence, alcoholism and desertion. Some also had previous depressive episodes. A strong supporting social network, especially by the father, and also by the extended family and friends, was significant in preventing depression. Behavioural problems in infants and preschool children were more common in families with depressed mothers.