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New dads may spank babies to vent depression--study

The researchers found that 7 percent of the fathers reporting suffering from baby blues.

It's known that just like new moms, new dads can also suffer from baby blues. Now a new study states that fathers experiencing postpartum depression are more likely to spank their babies.

According to the researchers from the University of Michigan, depressed dads are more likely to spank their children 1-year-old or under, and less likely to read to their kids at least three times in a week.

1,746 news fathers studied
To reach the study findings, Dr. R. Neal Davis, of Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah, and colleagues analyzed interview data from 1,746 news fathers in 1999-2000 from 16 major cities in the United States.

The data was a part of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study.

The dads were asked questions regarding how much time they played with and read to their children. They were also asked if they had spanked their kids over the last month.

Later, they were also assessed for depression.

Depressed fathers spank more, read less
The researchers found that 7 percent of the fathers reported suffering from baby blues.

Out of these, 41 percent acknowledged spanking their kids compared to 13 percent of dads who were not depressed.

“This finding is particularly concerning given that children were only 1 year of age in our study, a developmental stage when children are unlikely to understand the connection between their behavior and subsequent punishment and when spanking is more likely to cause physical injury.”--study authors

Further, of the depressed fathers, 41 percent also said they read to their kids three times a week. This is less than 58 percent of non-depressed dads who reads to their children.

Spanking harms kids
The study findings are concerning as previous studies have shown that spanked kids are at high risk of being physically abused and becoming aggressive.

“This finding is particularly concerning given that children were only 1 year of age in our study, a developmental stage when children are unlikely to understand the connection between their behavior and subsequent punishment and when spanking is more likely to cause physical injury,” stated the study authors.

But there is some good news too. Researchers found that 77 percent of the depressed dads had spoken to their kid's doctors, which highlights that fathers are involving themselves in child care.

As new dads are visiting their kid's doctors, the researchers recommend pediatricians should discuss parenting issues with dads, and screen them for depression, and suggest treatment to those who are depressed.