Up to now research tradition particularly focused on the influence of maternal psychopathology on the early developing infant. There are two main reasons to focus on paternal psychopathology during pregnancy. Firstly, fathers contribute 50% of their children’s genes and depression and anxiety are highly heritable in infants. Secondly, paternal psychopathology can be an important confounder in associations between maternal psychopathology during pregnancy and the developing infant. This study was embedded in the Generation R Study, a prospective multiethnic population-based study on growth, development and health of children followed from early fetal life. This thesis aimed at extending the existing knowledge on transgenerational aspects of common psychiatric disorders. The main findings were: 1. During pregnancy mothers had much higher levels of psychopathology compared to fathers. Maternal and paternal psychopathology were significantly correlated (.32). Ethnicity explained most of the variance of the investigated factors on all symptom scales of the BSI. Participants with other ethnic backgrounds had higher psychopathology scores than native Dutch, even after adjustment for age and educational level. 2. Maternal depression – and not anxiety – seems to be associated with lower birth weight of the child, even after adjustment for parental birth weight and other confounders. 3. Maternal and paternal depression during pregnancy did influence their children’s behaviour in different ways. Both maternal and paternal depression during pregnancy were independently, though differently, related to excessive infant crying at 2 months. Maternal depression during pregnancy was independently associated with recovery from distress and sadness in 6-month-old girls, and to distress to limitations in 6-month-old boys. Paternal depression during pregnancy was not associated with behaviour of 6-month-old girls, while it was independently associated with fear in 6-month-old boys.

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The Generation R Study Group, The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, Verhulst, Prof. Dr. F.C.
M.W. Hengeveld (Michiel) , F.C. Verhulst (Frank)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Lambregtse-van den Berg, M. (2006, May 24). Parental psychopathology and the early developing child: The Generation R Study. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/7739