Association between maternal childhood trauma and offspring childhood psychopathology: mediation analysis from the ALSPAC cohort

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Abstract

Background

Studies have shown that a mother's history of childhood maltreatment is associated with her child's experience of internalising and externalising difficulties.

Aims

To characterise the mediating pathways that underpin this association.

Method

Data on a mother's history of childhood maltreatment, depression during pregnancy, postnatal depression, maladaptive parenting practices and her child's experience of maltreatment and internalising and externalising difficulties were analysed in an Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) sample of 9397 mother-child dyads followed prospectively from pregnancy to age 13.

Results

Maternal history of childhood maltreatment was significantly associated with offspring internalising and externalising difficulties. Maternal antenatal depression, postnatal depression and offspring child maltreatment were observed to significantly mediate this association independently.

Conclusions

Psychological and psychosocial interventions focused around treating maternal depression, particularly during pregnancy, and safeguarding against adverse childhood experiences could be offered to mothers with traumatic childhood histories to help protect against psychopathology in the next generation.

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