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The relationship between maternal depression and child outcomes in a child welfare sample: implications for treatment and policy

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Maternal depression is an extremely important parenting variable in relation to child general health. This investigation addressed the issue of maternal depression as it relates to the lives of children seen by child welfare authorities. Maternal depression was investigated in the context of the increasing rate of children coming to the attention of the London and Middlesex Children's Aid Society. A variety of child outcomes including those of particular relevance to child welfare, specifically disorders of attachment and neglect and physical abuse, school-related variables, conduct disorder and psychological distress, were investigated. The relative contribution of maternal depression along with measures of socioeconomic status and social isolation to childhood risk was examined. Results indicated that the rate of maternal depression doubled during the years 1995–2001. Maternal depression was related to children entering care through wardship. Additional poor child outcomes such as attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder and emotional adjustment were also related to maternal depression. The findings are discussed in terms of treatment and policies that can lower the risk to children through effective intervention with depressed mothers.
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Keywords: child welfare; maternal depression; policy; treatment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 01 November 2005

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