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Growing up with depression.

The children of severely depressed parents appear to be vulnerable not only to recurrent depression but also to a variety of medical problems, according to Yale University investigators. But the role genetic and environmental factors play in their increased risk is not yet clear, says project director Myrna M. Weissman.

Weissman and her colleagues interviewed 56 children of depressed parents and 35 children of healthy parents six years after the parents entered the Yale study. The youngsters, whose mothers were also interviewed, ranged in age from 6 to 23. Compared with the children of healthy parents, the children of depressed parents had over three times the risk of developing severe depression. They also had significantly more colic in the first 10 months of life, head injuries, operations, poor peer relationships and weak or abnormal cries at birth. Their mothers reported more illness and medication use during pregnancy.

Higher rates of severe depression were reported by children about themselves than were reported by mothers about their children, notes Weissman. This suggests that the child might be the best source for detecting early signs of depression, she says.

The highest rates of depression were reported in late adolecence and early adulthood, adds Weissman. The contribution, if any, of increased stress in familities with depressed parents, poor parenting of depressed mothers and heredity to a child's depression remains to be studied.
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Title Annotation:medical problems of children of severely depressed patents
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 1, 1985
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