in Problems Reported for Children Whose Mothers Were Treated
studies have found elevated rates of problems among children
whose parents have psychiatric disorders. Multiple genetic
and environmental factors could contribute to associations
between child and parent psychopathology. Whatever their causes,
these associations raise the question of whether effective
treatment of parents' disorders would be followed by changes
in their children's problems. To answer this question, Weissman
et al. (2006) tested changes in problems reported for children
whose mothers received medication for nonpsychotic major depressive
disorders. The mothers were participating in the Sequenced
Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study
conducted in 19 clinics throughout the U.S. The mothers initially
received citalopram, followed by other medications, if indicated.
Weissman et al. evaluated changes in 114 7- to 17-year-olds
whose mothers' depressions either remitted over 3 months of
treatment (n = 38) or failed to remit (n = 76).
At baseline and 3 months later, the children's problems were
assessed in terms of DSM-IV diagnoses made with the Kiddie
Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS)
administered to the children and their mothers, plus Internalizing,
Externalizing, and Total Problems scores on CBCLs completed
by mothers. Children whose mothers' depression remitted showed
significantly greater reductions in the number of K-SADS diagnoses
and in CBCL Internalizing, Externalizing, and Total Problems
scores than children whose mothers' depression failed to remit.
The authors concluded that "Remission of maternal depression
has a positive effect on both mothers and their children"
(p. 1389). The findings certainly suggest that improvements
in parental psychopathology can have beneficial effects on
children's problems. To extend the evaluation of such effects
beyond parent-child interactions, it would be desirable to
include assessment of children's functioning in school, as
reported by teachers.
Reference: Weissman, M.M., Pilowsky, D.J., Wickramaratne,
P.J., Talati, A., Wisniewski, S.R., Fava, M., et al. (2006).
Remissions in Maternal Depression and Child Psychopathology:
A STAR*D Report. Journal of the American Medical Association,