Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Early childhood malnutrition predicts depressive symptoms at ages 11–17

Buy Article:

$59.00 + tax (Refund Policy)


We examined the prevalence of depressive symptoms in Barbadian youth with histories of infantile malnutrition and in a healthy comparison group and the extent to which the effect of malnutrition was mediated/moderated by maternal depression. Methods: 

Depressive symptoms were assessed using a 20-item scale administered to youths (11–17 years of age) who had experienced an episode of protein-energy malnutrition (marasmus or kwashiorkor) during the first year of life and in a comparison group of healthy youths without a history of malnutrition. Their mothers completed the same questionnaire on the same test on three occasions when their children were 5–17 years of age at 2–5-year intervals. Results: 

The prevalence of depressive symptoms was elevated among previously malnourished youth relative to healthy comparison children (p  <  .001). When youth depression scores were subjected to a longitudinal multiple regression analysis, adjusting for the effect of maternal depressive symptoms, significant effects due to the history of early childhood malnutrition remained and were not discernibly attenuated from an unadjusted analysis. We also found significant independent effects of maternal depressive symptoms on youth depressive symptoms. Conclusion: 

Early childhood malnutrition contributed independently to depressive symptoms in youths who experienced a significant episode of malnutrition in the first year of life. This relationship was not mediated or moderated by the effects of maternal depression. Whether the later vulnerability to depression is a direct effect of the episode of malnutrition and related conditions early in life or whether it is mediated by the more proximal neurobehavioral effects of the malnutrition remains to be determined.
No References
No Citations
No Supplementary Data
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: Mood; adolescence; depression; kwashiorkor; protein–energy malnutrition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Judge Baker Children’s Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA 2: Barbados Nutrition Study, Bridgetown, Barbados 3: Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA 4: Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA and McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2010

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more