Effects on children of treating their mothers' depression: Results of a 12-month follow-up

Mary Jo Coiro, Anne Riley, Marina Broitman, Jeanne Miranda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: This study used a controlled research design to examine the effects on children of treating their mothers' depression and of remission of the mothers' depression. Method: The sample consisted of 60 low-income women with major depression, who were predominantly from minority racial-ethnic groups, and their children ages four to 11. Women were randomly assigned to receive one of two active treatments (medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy) or a referral to existing community services. The mothers' depression was assessed by self-report on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and the children's symptoms and adaptive skills were assessed by their mothers at baseline and six-month and 12-month follow-ups with the Behavior Assessment System for Children. Results: Mixed-effects random intercept and random slope repeated-measures analyses using an intent-to-treat approach indicated that active treatment of mothers did not result in improvement in their children's behavior problems or adaptive skills. However, at both the six- and the 12-month follow-ups, children of mothers whose depression had remitted, regardless of treatment assignment, had significantly fewer behavior problems than children whose mothers remained depressed. Conclusions: The results support the need to expand access to, and support participation in, depression treatment among low-income women from minority racial-ethnic groups. Although treatment alone of this undertreated population was not associated with improvement in children's outcomes, it is a necessary first step to prevent psychopathology among offspring of depressed parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-363
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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