They also reported whether they had spanked their kids in the last month and whether they had spoken to their child's medical provider in the past year. The fathers were also assessed for depression.
Overall, 7 per cent of fathers had depression. Of those, 41 per cent said they read to their child at least three times a week, as compared with 58 per cent of fathers who weren't depressed.
Forty-one per cent of fathers said they had hit their child in the last month -- over three times as many as fathers who weren't depressed, reported the study published in the journal -- 'Paediatrics.'
"The effect of mothers' depression on parenting behaviors has well been established," said Sarah Clark, senior author of the study.
"This study is important because it demonstrates that depression in fathers has a very tangible effect on how those fathers interact with their young children," added Clark.
The findings also offered an important cue to action, as over three-quarters of depressed fathers reported talking to their child's doctor in the previous year.
"This suggests that visits to the pediatrician may provide an ideal opportunity to discuss specific parenting behaviors with fathers and to refer depressed fathers for appropriate treatment," said R Neal Davis, a former fellow at the University of Michigan Health System's Child Health and Evaluation Research (CHEAR) Unit in the Division of General Pediatrics.