A study has found that mental health problems of expectant fathers are associated with behavioral and emotional problems in their children as toddlers.
The study, “Paternal Mental Health and Socioemotional and Behavioral Development in Their Children,” published in the February 2013 Pediatrics (released online Jan. 7), is based on a Norwegian cohort study of more than 31,000 children.
At week 17 or 18 of gestation, 3 percent of fathers had high levels of psychological distress. Researchers found a strong link between fathers’ psychological distress and their children’s behavioral difficulties at age 3 years. Children whose fathers had higher levels of distress had higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems.
Study authors conclude that some risk for future mental health problems can be identified during pregnancy, which presents an opportunity for preventive intervention.