The purpose of this study is to examine whether maternal depressive symptoms predict low positive emotionality and high temperamental fearfulness in preschool children. Maternal depressive symptoms were assessed prenatally and at 2, 6, and 36 months postnatally. Positive emotionality and temperamental fearfulness were assessed using laboratory observations in a large cohort of typically developing Dutch preschoolers (N = 799; 404 boys) at age 36 months (M = 37.53, SD = 1.50). Children exposed to elevated levels of maternal depressive symptoms in the first 3 years of life behaved less fearfully at age 3 years in a novel context that primarily elicited a startle response (B = −0.08, SE = 0.03, p = .01). The severity rather than timing of or change in maternal depressive symptoms accounted for the observed effect. In the present sample, maternal depressive symptoms were not associated with positive emotionality in the offspring (p > .05). Findings suggest a relation between maternal depressive symptoms and decreased offspring fearfulness in a low-risk community sample of young children.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2013.862800, hdl.handle.net/1765/81971
Journal Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Citation
Székely, E, Tiemeier, H.W, Jansen, P.W, Jaddoe, V.W.V, Hofman, A, Verhulst, F.C, & Herba, C.M. (2014). Maternal Depressive Symptoms Are Associated With Low Fearfulness in Preschoolers. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 43(5), 791–798. doi:10.1080/15374416.2013.862800