Belinda Tasker, AAP Medical Correspondent

December 6, 2011


Babies with depressed dads are at risk of developing behavioural and social problems by the time they start school, researchers have found.

The finding has sparked calls for doctors to check new dads for signs of depression in a similar way to how mums are routinely screened for postnatal depression.

The Australian researchers found the effects of paternal depression in the first year of a baby’s life were just as detrimental to a child’s development as postnatal depression.

Babies with depressed dads were more than three times as likely to have behavioural, emotional and social problems by the time they were five as infants whose dads didn’t suffer depression.

Even after stripping out the effects of the mother having postnatal depression, the family’s socio-economic status and education levels, the risk of the child having problems remained high.

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