Maternal depression and child telomere length: The role of genetic sensitivity

Publication Year
2023

Type

Journal Article
Abstract

Background
The stress of a mother's depression may increasingly tax psychobiological systems that help children with self-regulation, increasing children's allostatic load over time. Some evidence supports children exposed to maternal depression tend to have shorter telomeres and tend to have more somatic and psychological problems. Children having one or more A1 alleles of dopamine receptor 2 (DRD2, rs1800497), tend to have greater sensitivity to maternal depression and could experience more adverse child outcomes that contribute to greater allostatic load.

Methods
Using the Future Families and Child Wellbeing dataset, secondary-data analyses were used to test the effect of repeated exposure to maternal depression during early childhood on children's telomere length during middle childhood moderated by children's DRD2 genotype (N = 2884).

Results
Greater maternal depression was not significantly associated with shorter child telomere length and this association was not moderated by DRD2 genotypes while controlling for factors associated with child telomere length.

Implications
The effect of maternal depression on children's TL may not be significant in populations from diverse racial-ethnic and family backgrounds during middle childhood. These findings could help further our current understanding psychobiological systems affected by maternal depression that result in adverse child outcomes.

Journal
Journal of Affective Disorders
Volume
334
Pages
77-82