Impact of maternal common mental disorders on child educational outcomes at 7 and 9 years : a population-based cohort study in Ethiopia

Mekonnen, Habtamu ; Medhin, Girmay ; Tomlinson, Mark ; Alem, Atalay ; Prince, Martin ; Hanlon, Charlotte (2018-01)

CITATION: Mekonnen, H. et al. 2018. Impact of maternal common mental disorders on child educational outcomes at 7 and 9 years: a population-based cohort study in Ethiopia. BMJ Open, 8(1):e018916, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018916.

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Objectives To examine the association between exposure to maternal common mental disorders (CMD) in preschool and early school age children and subsequent child educational outcomes. Design A population-based cohort study. Setting The study was undertaken in the Butajira health and demographic surveillance site (HDSS), a predominantly rural area of south central Ethiopia. Participants Inclusion criteria are women aged between 15 and 49 years, able to speak Amharic, in the third trimester of pregnancy and resident of the HDSS. 1065 women were recruited between July 2005 and February 2006 and followed up. When the average age of children was 6.5 years old, the cohort was expanded to include an additional 1345 mothers and children who had been born in the 12 months preceding and following the recruitment of the original cohort, identified from the HDSS records. Data from a total of 2090 mother–child dyads were included in the current analysis. Measures Maternal CMD was measured when the children were 6–7 (6/7) and 7–8 (7/8) years old using the Self-reporting Questionnaire, validated for the setting. Educational outcomes (dropout) of the children at aged 7/8 years (end of 2013/2014 academic year) were obtained from maternal report. At age 8/9 years (end of 2014/2015 academic year), educational outcomes (academic achievement, absenteeism and dropout) of the children were obtained from school records. Results After adjusting for potential confounders, exposure to maternal CMD at 7/8 years was associated significantly with school dropout (OR 1.07; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.13, P=0.043) and absenteeism (incidence rate ratio 1.01; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.02 P=0.026) at the end of 2014/2015 academic year. There was no association between maternal CMD and child academic achievement. Conclusion Future studies are needed to evaluate whether interventions to improve maternal mental health can reduce child school absenteeism and dropout.

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