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Association between maternal perinatal depression and anxiety and child and adolescent development: A meta-analysis

journal contribution
posted on 14.09.2020, 00:00 authored by Alana Rogers, Shelley Obst, Sam Teague, Larissa Rossen, Liz SpryLiz Spry, Jacqui MacdonaldJacqui Macdonald, Matthew Sunderland, Craig OlssonCraig Olsson, George Youssef, Delyse HutchinsonDelyse Hutchinson
Importance There is widespread interest in associations between maternal perinatal depression and anxiety and offspring development; however, to date, there has been no systematic, meta-analytic review on the long-term developmental outcomes spanning infancy through adolescence.

Objective To provide a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of the extant literature on associations between maternal perinatal depression and anxiety and social-emotional, cognitive, language, motor, and adaptability outcomes in offspring during the first 18 years of life.

Data Sources Six databases were searched (CINAHL Complete, Cochrane Library, Embase, Informit, MEDLINE Complete, and PsycInfo) for all extant studies reporting associations between perinatal maternal mental health problems and offspring development to March 1, 2020.

Study Selection Studies were included if they were published in English; had a human sample, quantitative data, a longitudinal design, and measures of perinatal depression and/or anxiety and social-emotional, cognitive, language, motor, and/or adaptability development in offspring; and investigated an association between perinatal depression or anxiety and childhood development.

Data Extraction and Synthesis Of 27 212 articles identified, 191 were eligible for meta-analysis. Data were extracted by multiple independent observers and pooled using a fixed- or a random-effects model. A series of meta-regressions were also conducted. Data were analyzed from January 1, 2019, to March 15, 2020.
Main Outcomes and Measures Primary outcomes included social-emotional, cognitive, language, motor, and adaptability development in offspring during the first 18 years of life.

Results After screening, 191 unique studies were eligible for meta-analysis, with a combined sample of 195 751 unique mother-child dyads. Maternal perinatal depression and anxiety were associated with poorer offspring social-emotional (antenatal period, r = 0.21 [95% CI, 0.16-0.27]; postnatal period, r = 0.24 [95% CI, 0.19-0.28]), cognitive (antenatal period, r = −0.12 [95% CI, –0.19 to –0.05]; postnatal period, r = −0.25 [95% CI, –0.39 to –0.09]), language (antenatal period, r = −0.11 [95% CI, −0.20 to 0.02]; postnatal period, r = −0.22 [95% CI, −0.40 to 0.03]), motor (antenatal period, r = −0.07 [95% CI, −0.18 to 0.03]; postnatal period, r = −0.07 [95% CI, −0.16 to 0.03]), and adaptive behavior (antenatal period, r = −0.26 [95% CI, −0.39 to −0.12]) development. Findings extended beyond infancy, into childhood and adolescence. Meta-regressions confirmed the robustness of the results.

Conclusions and Relevance Evidence suggests that perinatal depression and anxiety in mothers are adversely associated with offspring development and therefore are important targets for prevention and early intervention to support mothers transitioning into parenthood and the health and well-being of next-generation offspring.



JAMA Pediatrics


E1 - E11


American Medical Association (AMA)


Chicago, Ill.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2020, American Medical Association