La dépression maternelle et le développement de l'enfant: Étude des facteurs de risque et de protection chez les enfants et les adolescents


Catherine Herba

Université du Québec à Montréal [UQAM]


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

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2017-2018

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Each year 15-20% of children in North America are born to mothers who experience stress, depression and/or anxiety (SDA). This is worrying since children of depressed mothers are at increased risk for developing internalising (depression, anxiety) and externalising (oppositional, conduct) problems, from the postnatal period into adolescence and adulthood. Little is known on how these children are at increased risk and on what preventive strategies or interventions could help to minimise negative effects.

The goal of my research programme is to study risk and protective factors for the development of mental health difficulties in children and adolescence. Good quality childcare during the preschool years and fostering healthy social functioning and social cognition (understanding the social and emotional cues of others) could prove to be important targets for early prevention or intervention strategies to minimise negative effects. I will address my research goal within complementary longitudinal and cross-sectional studies spanning from pregnancy to adolescence.

Study 1 will examine links between maternal SDA during pregnancy, biological markers of stress in pregnant mothers and their newborns, and child cognitive and behavioural development at age 2 years. Studies 2a and 2b employ longitudinal designs to examine how childcare may be associated with reduced internalising and externalising difficulties for children exposed to maternal SDA, through examining both quality of childcare and pathways by which childcare may be associated with child outcome. In studies 3a and 3b, I will examine social functioning and social cognition in relation to depression in adolescence.

This research programme aims to provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of risk and protection through innovative and complementary studies spanning from pregnancy into adolescence. Each project contributes unique knowledge by addressing important gaps in the literature.