La dépression maternelle et la santé mentale de l'enfant : Études des facteurs de vulnérabilité et de protection.

Chercheurs boursiers - Junior 1 | Concours 2012-2013

Catherine Herba

Université de Montréal


Domaine : Santé de la mère, des enfants et des adolescents 

Children of depressed mothers are at risk for developing long-term emotional problems (such as anxiety or depression). This is troubling since 30-40% of women of childbearing age may suffer from depression. Little is known on how these children become at risk and what we can do to protect them. I will address these questions within three research projects that involve children and their mothers. My first two projects use data from longitudinal studies following children since birth, to examine whether and how attending childcare over the preschool years may be protective for children of depressed mothers in the long-run (in middle-childhood and preadolescence). My third project studies a different source of family risk for a child's vulnerability to depression, due to being the brother/sister of a depressed teenager. Projects 1 and 3 will use computerized tasks to measure how children/teenagers at risk for depression process emotional information, such as facial expressions. I will study if children/teenagers at risk for depression pay more attention to negative emotions and less attention to happy expressions, representing an early marker of risk for later emotional problems. A better understanding of how children/teenagers at risk for depression process emotional information along with detailed longitudinal information on maternal depression and childcare use will help to clarify how children/teenagers develop emotional problems. Findings will have important clinical and social policy implications, reaching many Canadian families.