Father’s mental health in prenatal period - Pediatric Research Foundation
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Fathers’ mental health and that of their children: a longitudinal study beginning in the prenatal period

Fathers are poorly represented in studies of the prenatal origins of illness and health problems. As a result, prenatal paternal factors that increase the risk of mental health problems in children are not well understood. A growing number of studies show that children of fathers with symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress are at higher risk of developing mental health problems. However, these studies rarely consider the mental health of fathers during pregnancy.

Using a longitudinal approach beginning during pregnancy, this project aims to better understand:

  • The mental health trajectories of fathers between the first trimester of pregnancy and 12 months postpartum
  • The role of the father’s pre- and perinatal mental health in the early development of internalizing and externalizing problems in the child
  • In a father-mother-child cohort followed from pregnancy to 12 months, this study will examine the prospective associations between fathers’ mental health and that of their children while considering the contribution of maternal mental health.

In order to design interventions to optimize child health from pregnancy onwards, it is crucial to better understand the role of the father’s prenatal mental health in the child’s mental health. This project will make a major contribution in this area.


This study will make it possible to establish the relevance of intervening in the mental health of fathers from the time of pregnancy to promote the development and mental health of unborn children. It will also allow us to better understand the mental health trajectories of fathers in order to identify the optimal time to intervene in order to break the cycle of intergenerational transmission of mental health problems.

Leverage effect

Longitudinal follow-up of the cohort after 12 months of age will be the subject of funding applications to major granting agencies. Analysis of the data collected between the first trimester of pregnancy and one year of age will demonstrate the potential to follow this cohort of children well beyond one year of age to examine their mental health trajectories and associations with paternal mental health. The proposed project is a critical preliminary step in making the case for further examination of paternal mental health as a determinant of child mental health and development.


Principal researcher

  • Célia Matte-Gagné, Professor Population Health and Best Health Practices Axis, CHUL


  • CHU Québec-Université Laval Research Centre: Gina Muckle and Emmanuel Bujold
  • Université de Montréal: Isabelle Ouellet-Morin* and Annie Bernier
  • Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières: Nicolas Berthelot* *Canada Research Chairholders
  • Université Laval: Michel Boivin,* Amélie Petitclerc* and George Tarabulsy

Research Center

  • Research Centre CHU de Québec-Université Laval

Funded year


Project category

  • Neurodevelopment and mental health
  • Perinatal, neonatal and obstetrics