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Kids Exposed to Mom's Depression More Likely to Become Delinquents

Sad woman sitting alone silhouette
It's almost a rite of passage for kids to rebel as they get older, but a new study published online in Pediatrics reveals a reason why some kids can go beyond general misbehavior.

HealthDay reports that young kids with depressed mothers were more likely to smoke, use drugs and alcohol, and engage in violence during their early teens. In fact, children exposed to depression from ages "6 to 10 [were] actually more strongly associated with those risky health behaviors," says Ian Colman, co-author of the study.

Research for the study was conducted in Canada and started in 1994, with 2,900 pairs of moms and children (ages 2-5) being analyzed. Moms were given a questionnaire to fill out every two years, with questions about their own lives, plus their partners' and children's lives. When the kids reached age 10, they were given their own questionnaires to fill out, until they reached age 16 or 17. Their questions focused on substance use, stealing, carrying weapons, fighting, being approached by police, sex, suicide attempts, and other delinquent behaviors.

Data from the decade-long results revealed that 4 percent of the mothers who were depressed were more likely to have troubled teens. Researchers noted that these troubled teens were 1.4 times more to drink, 2 times more likely to smoke, and 3 times more like to use drugs than teens who did not have depressed mothers.

While this study does not prove that a mother's depression definitely leads to delinquency, as many other factors (such as genetics, parenting styles, and family environments) can affect a child's development. The study also did not focus on how a father's depression may affect kids, but Colman believes there is likely a similar correlation between the two factors.

Parents, especially mothers, who are experiencing depression should still get help from a trained medical professional to help alleviate the stress of parenting.

Postpartum Depression: "I couldn't even talk... without crying."

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com who covers baby-related content. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea

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