A new study has found that children whose fathers are suffering from depression are more likely to show signs of behavioral and emotional problems.
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“For years we've been studying maternal depression and how it affects children, but the medical community has done a huge disservice by ignoring fathers in this research,” said senior researcher Dr. Michael Weitzman.
Weitzman and colleagues at New York University reviewed data of nearly 22,000 US children aged 5 to 17 and of their parents from 2004 to 2008. All the children were living with both parents during the 4-year period.
Scientists found that 11 percent of children whose fathers had depression showed behavioral and emotional problems while the rate was 6 percent for kids with a non-depressed father.
The study also showed that mother's depression was more influential on kid's mental health and the association was even more for kids whose parents were both suffering from depression.
According to the findings which will appear in the December 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the risk of having behavioral and emotional problems was 19 percent for kids with a depressed mother while the risk jumped to 25 percent if both parents were depressed.
The new findings couldn't identify whether a parent's depression directly causes problems in children, but previous studies had shown that mother's depression triggers mental problems in her children.
“These findings reinforce what we already assumed -- that fathers matter, too, and they matter quite a lot,” Dr. Weitzman noted.
Although researchers didn't study how parents' depression may affect their children, their findings encourages parents who are suffering a mental condition to seek help and treatment.