A new study from the United Kingdom indicates that girls whose fathers were not present in their early childhood are likelier to display symptoms of depression as adolescents.
The Bristol University study, published recently in the journal Psychological Medicine, is part of a massive longitudinal project titled “Children of the 90s,” which has followed the lifelong health and development of thousands of young people born in the early 1990s.
According to researchers, the odds of a girl developing depression as an older child were much higher for subjects who were not raised by their fathers between the ages of 0-5 than it was for either girls whose fathers were not present between the ages of 5-10 or boys whose fathers were not present between the ages of 0-10. According to researchers, the trend held steady, even after an array of other social factors — among them, home ownership, family finances and the educational background of the mother — were considered.
Study authors say that younger children may be likelier to experience depression when they are older because they developed fewer “coping mechanisms.” Researchers also believe that the effects of father absenteeism may be stronger on girls than boys because female children may be more susceptible to negative family life events or other negative interpersonal experiences.
“These findings indicate a need to include fathers in research related to child and adolescent mental health issues,” stated lead author Iryna Culpin.
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