Symptoms of Psychological Distress Among Mothers and their Adult Offspring: A Longitudinal Examination

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Abstract

We examined the association between maternal psychological distress during offspring's early development and offspring's later distress in adulthood, as well as the influence of maternal characteristics at offspring's birth and offspring's characteristics in adulthood on distress. Data were obtained from the British Cohort Study, a longitudinal study of children born in a one-week period in 1970. Children were followed up multiple times from birth through to age 30. Results indicate that greater symptoms of maternal psychological distress during offspring's early childhood are associated with greater symptoms of distress in adult offspring. A large component of this association is indirect, occurring through mother's distress in later childhood and offspring's problem behavior during adolescence. Findings that the association between maternal and offspring's distress is more indirect than direct support arguments that early maternal distress has long-term consequences for offspring.

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