Children at Risk for Depression if Mothers Are Depressed During and After Pregnancy: Study Health


Children born to mothers who are depressed during and after pregnancy are more likely to develop depressive symptoms themselves before the age of 24, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

The results of the study were published in the journal ‘BJPsych Open’.

By age 24, infants born to mothers with prenatal and postnatal depression had depression scores nearly three points higher than offspring of mothers without depression.

The study also took into account the impact of the father’s depression, even though the sample was very small.

The study looked at information from a survey of 5,029 people over a 14-year period, ages 10 to 24, to examine how the risks of depression arise in childhood and childhood. adolescence.

The researchers also found that children of mothers with a history of postnatal depression had an increase in depressive symptoms over time, while those whose mothers had a history of prenatal depression had higher overall levels of depression throughout. .

This suggests the importance of prenatal and postnatal support and interventions for depression.

Using data from the world-renowned Children of the 90s health study (also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children), researchers were able to explore patterns of depressive symptoms in offspring based on different times of maternal depression to see if there were characteristics or differences in when and for how long the children of depressed mothers were themselves depressed.

Dr Rebecca Pearson, senior author and senior lecturer in psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Bristol / professor of psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: ‘Following repeated measures trajectories of mood in children of depressed mothers, from infancy to adulthood, we were able to provide additional information on how the well-known intergenerational risk of depressed mood presents itself over time. “

Dr Priya Rajyaguru, the first author, explained: “This study shows that children of parents with both prenatal and postnatal depression are themselves at higher risk for depression, and this risk appears to persist throughout. adolescence until early adulthood. “

“We also found differences depending on the timing of maternal depression in particular,” added Dr. Rajyaguru.

Data was collected from a predominantly white, middle-class cohort.

More work is needed to examine more populations and contexts such as parenting styles, peer relationships, and other factors in different cultures.

The research was supported by the expertise of the Manchester Metropolitan University.

Dr Joanne Black, President of the Faculty of Perinatal Psychiatry at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “This research examines the impact of depression in mothers and fathers on their children’s risk of depression.

“This shows that the timing of depression in parents (during pregnancy, after childbirth or both) and whether the mother, father or both have been affected are all important risk factors for future mental health. of the child, ”Dr. Black continued.

“The good news is that we have effective, evidence-based treatments and the sooner we can deliver them the better. That is why mental health screening for all mothers is vital and will continue to be a priority. out of the pandemic, ”said Dr. Noir explained.

“The study also raises important questions about the visibility of paternal mental health, although the sample of fathers is small. As their mental health is not systematically screened but always affects the child’s future mental health, we need more research to understand what better support for fathers might look like, ”concluded Dr. Black.

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