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Depressed dads more likely to spank
March 14th, 2011
01:48 PM ET

Depressed dads more likely to spank

Lots of information has been collected on the effects of depressed moms on their children, but very little on sad dads. Now a study published in the current issue of Pediatrics finds that fathers who suffer from depression are more likely to hit their children than fathers who are not depressed.

Researchers looked at a group of 1,700 fathers of 1-year-old children. They found 7 percent of the men had a diagnosis of  depression. Compared with non-depressed dads, fathers who suffered from depression were nearly four times more likely to report spanking their child and less likely to be involved in day-to-day parent/child activities, such as reading a book. Surprisingly, the most depressed fathers, along with non-depressed dads, reported regularly playing games and singing and talking to their kids. Researchers say this suggests that these activities may be more routine behaviors for fathers than reading.

But there is room for communication. Authors of the research say, because 77 percent of the depressed fathers in the study reported talking to their child’s pediatrician, visits to the little ones’ doctors may provide an excellent opportunity for physicians to discuss parenting habits with fathers and refer any depressed dad for appropriate treatment, if necessary.

"Fathers' active roles in families and their mental health clearly influence child development and well being," the study states. "The field of pediatrics is now faced with finding ways to support fathers in their parenting roles much in the same way we support mothers."


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.