Maternal Experienced Bereavement and Offspring Mental Health in Early Adulthood: The Role of Modifiable Parental Factors
CRESWELL C., Rashid L., Bauer A., BOWES L., Halligan S.
Abstract Background: It is estimated that 78% of children experience the death of a close friend or family member by 16 years of age, yet longitudinal research examining the mental health outcomes of wider experiences of bereavement is scarce. We conducted a longitudinal investigation of the association between maternal experienced bereavement before the age of 11 years and offspring depressive and anxiety disorders at age 18 and examined moderation of this association by modifiable parental factors. Methods: We analysed data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a UK-based birth cohort, including 9088 child participants with data available on bereavement. Bereavement was measured via maternal report at eight timepoints until children were 11 years. Offspring depressive and anxiety-related disorders were self-reported at 18 years old using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised (CIS-R). The potential moderating roles of maternal anxiety, maternal depression, parental monitoring, positive parenting, and negative parenting practices were examined. Results: Maternal experienced bereavement was not associated with depression or anxiety-related disorders in early adulthood among offspring. In addition, no support was found for negative parenting practices, parental monitoring, or maternal anxiety and depression as moderators of the relationship between maternal experienced bereavement and offspring mental health problems at 18 years old. Findings in relation to the moderating role of positive parenting practices were inconsistent. Conclusions: Findings suggest that a large number of children are exposed to maternal experienced bereavement. We found no evidence that maternal experienced bereavement during childhood increases risk for offspring psychiatric disorders in early adulthood. Several methodological considerations prudent to bereavement research are discussed.