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Group-Based Child Care Appears To Be Associated With Reduced Risk For Emotional Problems In Children

Regulated group-based appears to be associated with reduced risk for among children of mothers with maternal depressive symptoms, according to a study published Online First by JAMA Psychiatry, a JAMA Network publication.

Children of depressed mothers are at increased risk of mental health problems. Researchers want to better understand how maternal depressive symptoms (MDSs) are associated with child outcome over time, the authors write in the study background.

Catherine M. Herba, Ph.D., of the Université du Québec á Montréal, Canada, and colleagues sought to determine whether early child care could moderate associations between MDSs and child emotional problems (EPs), separation anxiety symptoms and societal withdrawal symptoms (SWS) during the preschool period.

The population-based study included 1,759 children repeatedly assessed between the ages of 5 months and 5 years.

“We found that children exposed to MDSs during the preschool years were at elevated risk for internalizing symptoms but that their risk for EPs and SWSs was significantly reduced if they received early child care services. Given that most of today’s children experience child care during the preschool years, child care could potentially serve as a public health intervention strategy for high-risk children,” the study notes.

Among children of mothers with elevated MDSs, there were reduced risks for EPs and SWSs for those entering child care early or entering child care late compared with those children who remained in the care of their mothers. Children of mothers with elevated MDSs who received group-based child care also had lower risk for EPs than those who remained in maternal care or those who were cared for by a relative or babysitter, the results also indicate.

“Regulated child care services may represent an intervention that buffers the negative effect of MDSs on children’s EPs and SWSs,” the study concludes.


JAMA Psychiatry. Published online June 19, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1361.