Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
The effects of maternal postnatal depression and child sex on academic performance at age 16 years: a developmental approach
Article first published online: 4 MAY 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 51, Issue 10, pages 1150–1159, October 2010
How to Cite
Murray, L., Arteche, A., Fearon, P., Halligan, S., Croudace, T. and Cooper, P. (2010), The effects of maternal postnatal depression and child sex on academic performance at age 16 years: a developmental approach. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51: 1150–1159. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02259.x
- Issue published online: 14 SEP 2010
- Article first published online: 4 MAY 2010
- Manuscript accepted 18 January 2010
- Academic performance;
- cognitive development;
- postnatal depression;
- mother–child interactions
Background: Postnatal depression (PND) is associated with poor cognitive functioning in infancy and the early school years; long-term effects on academic outcome are not known.
Method: Children of postnatally depressed (N = 50) and non-depressed mothers (N = 39), studied from infancy, were followed up at 16 years. We examined the effects on General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exam performance of maternal depression (postnatal and subsequent) and IQ, child sex and earlier cognitive development, and mother–child interactions, using structural equation modelling (SEM).
Results: Boys, but not girls, of PND mothers had poorer GCSE results than control children. This was principally accounted for by effects on early child cognitive functioning, which showed strong continuity from infancy. PND had continuing negative effects on maternal interactions through childhood, and these also contributed to poorer GCSE performance. Neither chronic, nor recent, exposure to maternal depression had significant effects.
Conclusions: The adverse effects of PND on male infants’ cognitive functioning may persist through development. Continuing difficulties in mother–child interactions are also important, suggesting that both early intervention and continuing monitoring of mothers with PND may be warranted.