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Maternal adherence to healthy lifestyle and risk of depressive symptoms in the offspring: mediation by offspring lifestyle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 November 2022

Wei-Chen Wang
Affiliation:
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
Ming Ding
Affiliation:
Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
Susanne Strohmaier
Affiliation:
Department of Epidemiology, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Eva Schernhammer
Affiliation:
Department of Epidemiology, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Qi Sun
Affiliation:
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
Jorge E. Chavarro
Affiliation:
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
Henning Tiemeier*
Affiliation:
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA Department of Social and Behavioral Science, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, USA
*
Author for correspondence: Henning Tiemeier, E-mail: tiemeier@hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

Background

Adherence to healthy lifestyles can be beneficial for depression among adults, but the intergenerational impact of maternal healthy lifestyles on offspring depressive symptoms is unknown.

Methods

In total, 10 368 mothers in Nurses' Health Study II and 13 478 offspring in the Growing Up Today Study were paired. Maternal and offspring healthy lifestyles were defined as a composite score including a healthy diet, normal body mass index (BMI), never-smoking, light-to-moderate consumption of alcohol, and regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Maternal lifestyles were assessed during their offspring's childhood. Offspring depressive symptoms were repeatedly assessed five times using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale-10 (CESD-10); the offspring were between the ages of 14 and 30 when the first CESD-10 was assessed. Covariates included maternal variables (age at baseline, race/ethnicity, antidepressant use, pregnancy complications, etc.) and offspring age and sex.

Results

Children of mothers with the healthiest lifestyle had significantly fewer depressive symptoms (a 0.30 lower CESD-10 score, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.09–0.50) in comparison with children of mothers with the least healthy lifestyle. The association was only found significant in female offspring but not in males. For individual maternal lifestyle factors, a normal BMI, never-smoking, and adherence to regular physical activity were independently associated with fewer depressive symptoms among the offspring. The association between maternal healthy lifestyles and offspring depressive symptoms was mediated by offspring's healthy lifestyles (mediation effect: 53.2%, 95% CI 15.8–87.3).

Conclusions

Our finding indicates the potential mechanism of intergenerational transmission of healthy lifestyles to reduce the risk of depressive symptoms in offspring.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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