13 May 2019

Maternal depression in the intergenerational transmission of childhood maltreatment and its sequelae: Testing postpartum effects in a longitudinal birth cohort

This study examined the mediating role of postpartum depression in the relationship between maternal childhood maltreatment and a cascade of negative child outcomes, specifically child exposure to maltreatment, internalising symptoms, and externalising symptoms. Mothers who had been maltreated as children, especially those who had experienced emotional or sexual abuse, were at increased risk for postpartum depression. In turn, postpartum depression predicted children’s exposure to maltreatment, and emotional and behavioral problems. Identifying and treating postpartum depression, and preventing its recurrence, may help interrupt the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment.