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Maternal Depression: A Global Threat to Children’s Health, Development, and Behavior and to Human Rights

Authors


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Theodore D. Wachs, Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907; e-mail: wachs@psych.purdue.edu.

Abstract

ABSTRACT—Depressive disorders are a common source of disability among women. In addition to the economic and human costs of maternal depression, children of depressed mothers are at risk for health, developmental, and behavioral problems. Although most of the research examining the evidence and intergenerational aspects of maternal depression has been conducted in high-income countries, recent evidence suggests that rates of maternal depression may be higher in low- and middle-income countries, where nearly 90% of the world’s children live. This review examines the evidence from low- and middle-income countries that links maternal depression with children’s health, development, and behavior. We present recommendations for future policies and intervention programs related to maternal depression and examine how maternal depression affects the rights of millions of children living in these countries.

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