Development and Psychopathology

Research Article

Postpartum depression and child development: An investigation of mothers and fathers as sources of risk and resilience

Michelle G. Carroa1, Kathryn E. Granta1, Ian H. Gotliba2 c1 and Bruce E. Compasa1 c2

a1 University of Vermont

a2 Northwestern University


We examined maternal and paternal characteristics at 1 month postpartum as risk and protective factors for children's internalizing and externalizing problems at 2–3 years of age. In a sample of 70 couples and their children, fathers' depressive symptoms at 1 month postpartum predicted children's internalizing and externalizing problems at 2–3 years of age, and the interaction of fathers' and mothers' depressive symptoms predicted subsequent internalizing problems. Mothers' postpartum symptoms did not predict either type of children's behavior problems at age 2–3. When entered in the regression equations, mothers' depressive symptoms when the children were age 2–3 years accounted for all of the effects of paternal and maternal postpartum depressive symptoms. No evidence was found for the protective effects of marital satisfaction or social support, or for low levels of depressive symptoms in a spouse. We highlight directions for future risk and resilience research related to parental postpartum depression.


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Ian H. Gotlib, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208;

c2 Bruce E. Compas, Department of Psychology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405.