WASHINGTON D.C. (WUSA9) -- A history of childhood depression is linked to cardiac risk later on in life.
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pittsburgh studied 201 children with a history of clinical depression in 2004. The average age of the participant was 9.
The study followed these children until 2011, when the participants reached age 16. Compared against 161 unrelated age-and gender matched children with no history of depression, there were noticeable differences.
"Of the kids who were depressed at age 9, 22% were obese at age 16... A third of those who were depressed as children had become daily smokers, compared to 13% of their non depressed siblings and only 2.5% of the control group," said first author Robert M. Carney, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at Washington University.
These heart disease risk factors were more common in formerly depressed children regardless of whether or not they were still clinically depressed later on in life.
Even the siblings of depressed children were found to be five times more likely to smoke than children in the other control group.
Robert M. Carney reiterates the importance of the study and he says, "Finding this link between childhood depression and these risk factors suggests that we need to very closely monitor young people who have been depressed."