Maternal depression is common in clinical experience but has not been fully addressed in the pediatric literature. Depression can refer to either depressive symptoms or a diagnosable depression. Depression among mothers occurs frequently, is persistent, and is related to other factors such as low social class and marital disharmony. Studies demonstrate an association between a mother's depression and adverse outcomes for her child including low birth weight, behavior problems, somatic complaints, poor growth, accidents, and affective illness. Affect and child-rearing characteristics of depressed mothers seem to be important factors in mediating these poor outcomes. Pediatricians have a special role in helping depressed mothers and their children.

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