influence of maternal depression and IQ on child nutritional status

Open Access
Mcgill, Megan Kathleen
Area of Honors:
Nutritional Sciences
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Katarzyna Kordas, Thesis Supervisor
  • Rebecca L Corwin, Honors Advisor
  • Rebecca L Corwin, Faculty Reader
  • maternal
  • depression
  • IQ
  • nutrition
  • iron
  • child
The relationship between a mother and child represents one of the most complex and unique connections that exists between humans. The mother plays a critical role as the primary caregiver for the child’s emotional, physical, and cognitive health and development. For this reason, the health of the mother presents a significance influence to her ability to care for the child, and thus influences the child’s health and development in turn. Specifically, the current study addressed the role that maternal depression in the context of low IQ has on child nutritional status, specifically child iron status, as measured through hemoglobin status. Overall, 211 mother-child pairs from Montevideo, Uruguay were included in this study. Blood samples were performed on the children and sent to the Pennsylvania State University for analysis. Child iron status was assessed through blood samples evaluating CRP-adjusted serum ferritin concentration, hemoglobin status, and presence of anemia. Maternal IQ was evaluated through the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale III (WAIS III, TEA Ediciones, S.A., Madrid, Spain). Maternal Depression was assessed using the Argentine adaptation of the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI II, Ediciones Paidós, Buenos Aires, Argentina). Trained psychologists from the Catholic University of Uruguay Research Institute conducted these assessments. All statistical analyses were carried out using STATA 12.0 (STATA Corp, College Station, TX). The statistical analyses were set up with several outcome and two main predictor variables (maternal depression and IQ). Four different models were run to test associations between the different variables. The models were covariate-adjusted for child sex, the presence of crowding in the house, number of household possessions, maternal age, maternal education, and the area of Montevideo where the child lived, the number of hours children spent watching television, playing video games, and using the computer, to account for sedentary activity, the factor score representing support for children’s autonomy and the HOME score representing cognitive support. For the participating mothers who were assessed, overall intelligence quotient was low, indicating an average of 83.3 ± 14.2 points, and 36.4% scoring below 80 points (Table 1). 15.6% of mothers reported experiencing moderate depression, as indicated by a score of more than 19 points for depressive symptoms (Table 1). Approximately 63% of children were iron-deficient and approximately 8% had anemia (Table 2). Children consumed a mean of 4.62 mg iron per 1000 kcal (Table 2). There was no significant interaction score between maternal IQ and depressive symptoms and child iron status. Overall, this study concludes that maternal depression in the context of low IQ did not influence child iron status. However, a large body of existing literature supports the influence of maternal psychosocial and emotional health on child health and potentially nutritional status, thus, further studies with larger sample sizes are needed to clarify the results.