A study has found an association between expectant dad's mental illness and child's behavior and wellbeing at age three.
Previous research has shown that the mother's stress levels during pregnancy can have a huge impact on the child's health. The new Norwegian study shows that father's psychological stress can also be detrimental to the child's wellbeing.
The study included more than 31,000 children from Norway. Researchers found that at week 17 or 18 during the pregnancy, 3 percent of the fathers reported to have mental health problems. Study analysis found that children whose fathers had high levels of psychological stress were more likely to have emotional or behavioral problems as toddlers.
The association between father's psychological health and behavior problems in toddlers remained even after the researchers accounted for mother's mental health and other factors like education and marital status that might have affected the child's behavior.
James Paulson, an associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, said that in the past decade, researchers have found a relation between mothers' mental health and the growing child's mental health. The new study shows that even father's depression during pregnancy can have adverse effects on the child's health as postpartum depression.
"For parents and physicians, the message should be clear. We need to be aware of depression (in) both parents from the time a pregnancy is realized. This study suggests that physicians should screen for depression early and often, and make the appropriate referral as soon as it's detected," Paulson, who wasn't involved in the study, told USA TODAY.
The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.
Published by Medicaldaily.com