Online Program

Postpartum depressive symptoms and infant weight outcomes: Do well-child visits make a difference?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rada Dagher, PhD, MPH, Dpt of Health Services Admin, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Taryn Morrissey, PhD, Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington, DC

Background: Maternal postpartum depression affects 10% to 20% of new mothers, but little research has examined its relationship with weight outcomes during infancy and whether clinical interventions can mitigate this relationship. This study investigated the associations of postpartum depressive symptoms with infants’ weight-for-length z-scores, obesity, and overweight at 9 months of age; and whether the number of well-child visits moderated these associations.

Methods: We used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), a nationally representative sample of approximately 10,700 children born in the U.S. in 2001.

Results: At 9 months postpartum, 6% of the mothers were considered severely depressed, and 16% either moderately or severely depressed, on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Approximately 15% of the children were obese and 29% were overweight (at or above the 95th or 85th percentiles for weight and length, respectively). Higher maternal depression scores were associated with lower odds of obesity (OR= 0.997, 95% CI: 0.970 - 0.994) and overweight (OR= 0.990, 95% CI: 0.981 - 0.999) among their infants, and higher numbers of well-child-visits were associated with even lower odds of child overweight among mothers with higher depression scores (OR= 0.996, 95% CI: 0.993 - 0.999). Depressive scores had no associations with infants’ continuous weight-for-length z-scores.

Conclusions: While the causal directions and mechanisms remain unclear, findings suggest that well-child visits may provide an opportunity to address mothers’ depressive symptoms and promote healthy eating and physical activity habits among their children.

Learning Areas:

Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe the associations of postpartum depressive symptoms with each of the three infant weight outcomes and whether well-child visits moderate any of these associations

Keyword(s): Child Health, Depression

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I performed the data analyses and wrote the majority of the paper
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.