September 5, 2014

Add Health Study: A longitudinal study of paternal mental health during transition to fatherhood as young adults

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a research team from Northwestern University, University of California-Irvine, and Boston College, studied the effect of fatherhood on paternal mental health. The research team of Craig F. Garfield, Greg Duncan, Joshua Rutsohn, Thomas W. McDade, Emma K. Adam, Rebekah Levine Coley, and P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, analyzed depressive symptoms among three groups of young adult men, nonfathers, nonresident fathers, and resident fathers. They found that depressive symptoms are highest for resident fathers and lowest for nonfathers in this age group.

Read the USA Today story here: Depression risks increase for young dads (released on April 14, 2014 by Michelle Healy).

Excerpt: “Symptoms of depression increased on average by 68% over the first five years of fatherhood for men who were around 25 years old when they became fathers and lived with their children, according to the study published online today in the journal Pediatrics.

Garfield’s previous research has shown depressed dads will use more corporal punishment, read less and interact less with their children, and are more likely to be stressed and neglect their children. Compared with the children of non-depressed dads, these children are at risk for having poor language and reading development and more behavior problems and conduct disorders. ‘The next question is why are there these differences and how can we avoid making a one-size-fits-all approach to paternal depression and actually tailor something to fit individual needs?’ he says.”

Craig F. Garfield is an Associate Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in the Departments of Pediatrics and Medical Social Sciences, who is also affiliated with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research in Evanston, Illinois.  Greg Duncan is a Distinguished Professor at the University of California-Irvine’s School of Education.  Joshua Rutsohn is a researcher at Northwestern University’s Department Medical Social Sciences. Thomas W. McDade is a Professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Anthropology and the Director of Cells to Society at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research.  Emma K. Adam is Professor at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Rebekah Levine Coley is a Professor of Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale is an Associate Provost for Faculty at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research and Frances Willard Professor of Human Development and Social Policy.

Scholarly source:  Garfield CF, Duncan G, Rutsohn J, McDade TW, Adam EK, Coley RL, Chase-Lansdale PL. A longitudinal study of paternal mental health during transition to fatherhood as young adults. Pediatrics 2014. Article available online.