Group Child Care Helpful for Kids of Depressed MomsCanadian researchers find that children exposed to maternal depression appear to benefit from group child care.

Researchers in Montreal found fewer emotional problems and symptoms of social withdrawal among children exposed to maternal depression.

“We found that children exposed to maternal depression during the preschool years were nearly two times more likely to develop emotional problems and separation anxiety symptoms.

“However, regular child care attendance of at least 8 hours per week was linked to a more positive outcome for these children, such as reduced chances of developing emotional problems and symptoms of social withdrawal,” reported Catherine Herba, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

Entering child care at a younger age (i.e. before 17 months of age) or later in the preschool period was associated with similarly beneficial effects.

Researchers say lower levels of emotional problems were linked to group-based child care — either in a family environment or a daycare center.

Child care arrangements with family members or babysitters, usually individual care within the child’s home, were not associated with reduced risk of developing emotional problems in these children.

“Further work needs to be done for us to understand the exact mechanisms responsible for this effect,” Herba said.

“However, results clearly point toward the benefits of regulated group-based child care for children exposed to symptoms of maternal depression during their preschool years. This could be due to the more structured setting; care provided by trained professionals; the child being out of their home; or exposure to other children of a similar age.”

Sylvana Côté, Ph.D., a co-author of the study, also noted that “it is important that we support young families, particularly those at risk, by providing access to quality child care services.”

Source: University of Montreal

Kids in daycare photo by shutterstock.