University of Oulu

Girchenko, P., Robinson, R., Rantalainen, V.J. et al. Maternal postpartum depressive symptoms partially mediate the association between preterm birth and mental and behavioral disorders in children. Sci Rep 12, 947 (2022).

Maternal postpartum depressive symptoms partially mediate the association between preterm birth and mental and behavioral disorders in children

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Author: Girchenko, Polina1; Robinson, Rachel1; Rantalainen, Ville Juhani1;
Organizations: 1Institute of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, (Haartmaninkatu 3), P.O BOX 21, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
2National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
3Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
4Psychology/Welfare Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
5Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
6Department of Psychology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
7Leibniz University of Hannover, Hannover, Germany
8IZA Bonn, Bonn, Germany
9Department of Clinical Chemistry, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
10Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland
11Center for Child, Adolescent and Maternal Health Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
12Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
13Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, Helsinki Institute of Life Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
14Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
15National Institute for Health and Welfare, Public Health Promotion Unit, Helsinki, Finland
16University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-29


Preterm birth has been linked with postpartum depressive (PPD) disorders and high symptom levels, but evidence remains conflicting and limited in quality. It remains unclear whether PPD symptoms of mothers with preterm babies were already elevated before childbirth, and whether PPD symptoms mediate/aggravate the effect of preterm birth on child mental disorders. We examined whether preterm birth associated with maternal PPD symptoms, depressive symptoms trajectories from antenatal to postpartum stage, and whether PPD symptoms mediated/aggravated associations between preterm birth and child mental disorders. Mothers of preterm (n = 125) and term-born (n = 3033) children of the Prediction and Prevention of Preeclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction study reported depressive symptoms four times within 8 weeks before and twice within 12 months after childbirth. Child mental and behavioral disorder diagnoses until age 8.4–12.8 years came from medical register. Preterm birth associated with higher PPD symptoms (mean difference = 0.19 SD, 95% CI 0.01, 0.37, p = 0.04), and higher odds (odds ratio = 2.23, 95% CI 1.22, 4.09, p = 0.009) of the mother to belong to a group that had consistently high depressive symptoms levels trajectory from antenatal to postpartum stage. PPD symptoms partially mediated and aggravated the association between preterm birth and child mental disorders. Preterm birth, maternal PPD symptoms and child mental disorders are associated, calling for timely prevention interventions.

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Series: Scientific reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
ISSN-E: 2045-2322
ISSN-L: 2045-2322
Volume: 12
Article number: 947
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-04990-w
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3123 Gynaecology and paediatrics
Funding: Funding was provided by European Commission Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course: structures and processes (DIAL) (Grant No. 724363), Academy of Finland, European Commission (Grant No. SC1-2016-RTD-733280 RECAP).
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