Postnatal depression is known to have adverse consequences for children’s development, but less is known about the effects of maternal depression during toddlerhood. New Australian research used data from a longitudinal cohort study to follow 438 mothers and their children from birth to age 5. The researchers found that recurrent maternal depression when children were aged 2 and 3 was associated with child behaviour problems at age 5. However, as little as half a day of formal child care at the age of 2 quashed the effects of the maternal depression. Informal child care did not produce the same benefits. The researchers suggest that child care may be one way of buffering the effects of recurrent maternal depression. “A modest amount of formal child care for toddlers of depressed mothers is a simple strategy that may have benefits for affected mothers and their children”, the researchers conclude.
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