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Difficult Babies at 5 Months of Age Are More Likely To Experience Early Depression

posted 09:18 AM EST, Sun August 30, 2009
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Difficult Babies at 5 Months of Age Are More Likely To Experience Early Depression © Photo Credit Yoshimov

Canadian researchers say that up to 15% of toddlers and preschoolers show signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety and that babies who are difficult at 5 months of age are at much greater risk of the disorders.

Researchers out McGill University, the University of Montreal and other participating institutions conducted a 5 year, longitudinal study of 1758 representative and randomly selected children born in Quebec. The children were evaluated annually for mental health symptoms, starting at five months of age, with the mothers present and questioned as well, to provide more complete information.

The researchers found that a surprising percentage of very young children show signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety. They have also discovered the 2 most important predictors of early childhood depression or anxiety:

  1. Maternal depression (lifetime) – children born to mothers who had ever experienced clinical depression were most likely to show signs themselves
  2. A difficult temperament at five months

Lead study author, Dr. Sylvana Cote, out of The University of Montreal, commented on the implications of the study results, saying, "Health professionals should target such high risk children at infancy, as well as their parents, to have a long-term impact on their well-being."

The researchers say that further research is needed on interventions for these very young children at-risk of depression and anxiety symptoms.

The complete study results can be read at The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122454564/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

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