Maternal depressive symptoms and children's cognitive development: Does early childcare and child's sex matter?

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Maternal depressive symptoms (MDS) have been associated with poorer child cognitive development. Some studies have shown that childcare attendance moderates associations between MDS and child behavior problems, but we do not know if this is the case for children's cognitive development. Furthermore, few studies have evaluated whether associations between MDS and child cognitive development differ for boys and girls at school entry. METHODS: This study used data from a population-based cohort study (n = 1364) comprising well-validated measures of children's cognitive development including academic readiness and language development in kindergarten and reading and mathematics achievement in first grade. Information on MDS was collected repeatedly from the child's age of 5 months to 5 years and on childcare from 5 months to 4.5 years. Moderation analyses were conducted to evaluate the differential associations of MDS with children's outcomes depending on the type of childcare attended and the child's sex. RESULTS: Childcare type or child's sex did not moderate associations between MDS and children's cognitive outcomes except for MDS being associated with lower scores on reading achievement in first grade for girls with a very small effect size (sr2 = .003). Childcare attendance was associated with higher scores for children's cognitive development, however these associations disappeared after adjusting for covariates including child, mother and family characteristics. Regardless of MDS and childcare type, boys had, even after adjusting for covariates, lower scores on academic readiness (sr2 = .029) and higher scores on mathematics achievement (sr2 = .004). CONCLUSIONS: Children's cognitive development at school entry was more strongly associated with maternal education, children's age in kindergarten and number of months of schooling in first grade than MDS. Contrary to associations between MDS and child behavior problems, childcare attendance did not moderate associations between MDS and children's cognitive development at school entry.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 4:16:40 PM
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Chantal Paquin, Sylvana Côté, Richard Tremblay, Jean Séguin, Michel Boivin, et al.. Maternal depressive symptoms and children's cognitive development: Does early childcare and child's sex matter?. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2020, 15 (1), pp.e0227179. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0227179⟩. ⟨inserm-02474819⟩

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