Stressful circumstances that covary with maternal affective disorder may
account for some of the risk to children for psychological dysfunction.
Children (ages 8-16) of mothers with unipolar or bipolar disorders were
compared with children of mothers who had chronic medical illness and
children of normal mothers. Comparisons included Kiddie-SADS (Schedule for
Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia) diagnoses and evaluations of
behavior problems, school functioning, and social competence. Compared to
the other groups, children of mothers with affective disorder (especially
unipolar) had high rates of diagnosis. With the effects of chronic stress
statistically controlled, psychosocial outcome variables showed fewer
differences between groups but indicated particular impairment for children
of unipolar mothers.