Background: Early childhood aggressive behaviour is a predictor of future violence. Therefore, identifying risk factors for children's aggressive behaviour is important in understanding underlying mechanisms. Maternal postpartum depression is a known risk factor. However, little research has focused on the influence of paternal behaviour on early childhood aggression and its interaction with maternal postpartum depression. Methods: This study was performed in two cohorts: the Fathers Project, in the United Kingdom (n = 143) and the Generation R Study, in The Netherlands (n = 549). In both cohorts, we related paternal antisocial personality (ASP) traits and maternal postpartum depressive (PPD) symptoms to childhood aggressive behaviour at age two (Fathers Project) and age three (Generation R Study). We additionally tested whether the presence of paternal ASP traits increased the association between maternal PPD–symptoms and early childhood aggression. Results: The association between paternal ASP traits and early childhood aggressive behaviour, corrected for maternal PPD-symptoms, was similar in magnitude between the cohorts (Fathers Project: standardized β = 0.12, p = 0.146; Generation R: β = 0.14, p = 0.001), although the association was not statistically significant in the Fathers Project. Strikingly, and in contrast to our expectations, there was evidence of a negative interaction between paternal ASP traits and maternal PPD-symptoms on childhood aggressive behaviour (Fathers Project: β = −0.20, p = 0.020; Generation R: β = −0.09, p = 0.043) in both studies. This meant that with higher levels of paternal ASP traits the association between maternal PPD-symptoms and childhood aggressive behaviour was less and vice versa. Conclusions: Our findings stress the importance of including both maternal and paternal psychopathology in future studies and interventions focusing on early childhood aggressive behaviour.

Child aggressive behaviour, Cohort studies, Maternal depression, Paternal antisocial behaviour,
European Psychiatry
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology

Lambregtse-van den Berg, M.P, Tiemeier, H.W, Verhulst, F.C, Jaddoe, V.W.V, Tindall, E. (Elizabeth), Vlachos, H. (Haido), … Ramchandani, P. (2018). Early childhood aggressive behaviour: Negative interactions with paternal antisocial behaviour and maternal postpartum depressive symptoms across two international cohorts. European Psychiatry, 54, 77–84. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.07.007