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Research indicates Dads depressed, too

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Fathers' postnatal depression affect child's development

Source: Lancet 2005; 365: 2201-5

Investigating the impact of paternal depression during the early years of a child's life on the child's emotional and behavioural development.

Fathers, as well as mothers, are often hit by postnatal depression, suggests research that also shows that these low moods can affect the child's development.

Lead author Dr. Paul Ramchandani, from the University of Oxford in the UK, said: "While a significant number of men do report depression following the birth of a child, until now the influence of depression in fathers during the early years of a child's life has received scant attention."

To shed light on this issue, the team assessed 8431 fathers and 11,833 mothers for depression, 8 weeks after the birth of their child. They found that 3.6 percent of the men were experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, irritability and feelings of hopelessness, compared with 10.2 percent of the women.

Follow-up showed that this paternal depression was associated with adverse emotional and behavioral outcomes in the children, at age 3.5 years, even after adjusting for maternal depression and later depression among fathers. The effect was largest for boys, among whom it was particularly evident with respect to problems with conduct and hyperactivity.

In view of their results, Ramchandani et al conclude: "Although largely neglected to date, paternal depression in the postnatal period should be recognized and treated by health professionals in order to lessen any adverse effects on the child."

Posted: 27 June 2005

Note:  The Lancet is a very respected medical journal published in England--

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