About the presentation
Although maternal depressive symptoms are robustly associated with offspring early-life psychopathology symptoms, it is not clear which potential mechanisms are at play. We aimed to estimate the relative importance of 1) genetic transmission and 2) direct environmental exposure in these associations at three occasions in early childhood using biometric modeling of maternal sisters and their offspring from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. Associations between maternal depressive symptoms and offspring psychopathology symptoms remained after accounting for shared genes, consistent with a small, causal effect. For offspring emotional problems, this effect appeared to increase in importance over time. Our findings imply that treatment of maternal depressive symptoms could also benefit the offspring, and that genetic confounding should be considered in future studies of such mother-offspring associations.