Research Suggests Depression During Pregnancy Alters Baby’s Biology

by | July 20, 2018

Depression During Pregnancy

A recent study released from Kings College, London has discovered if depression during pregnancy occurs, it may lead to biological changes in the infant. It is the first study to ever propose that depression while pregnant, can result in real and long-term changes in the fetus.

There are countless studies showing that the mothers mental health during pregnancy does affect the development of the baby, and previous studies have shown that a mother suffering depressing may be an indicator that her offspring may have an increased risk of developing the same later in life. The reasons for it are not known at this time.

This emerging study, however, is starting to paint a clearer picture between the parent and child, and the correlation of depression during pregnancy and depression in the child. The study with one hundred participants followed women throughout their pregnancies and twelve months proceeding the birth.

Roughly 50% of the participants were diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, and the other 50% viewed as a healthy control. Blood and saliva samples were studied for physiological signs relating to depression.

Women who had been diagnosed showed higher markers of inflammation in their blood and elevated cortisol levels in the saliva. One area of note is that the women who did suffer from depression during pregnancy went into labor earlier by an average of one week to eight days earlier.

depression during pregnancy

Link After Birth

The infants after birth were assessed for regular neonatal behavior, which was used to measure their alertness and response to stimuli. The first set of results showed that children, who were born to mothers suffering from depression, showed slower results than babies born in the healthy control group.

Over the course of the next twelve months, at standard vaccination appointments, babies who were born to mothers who suffered from depression, showed larger amounts of cortisol during the injections – leading researchers to believe that they were more sensitive to the stress.

“Interestingly, the behavioral and biological changes in the baby are not due to mothers’ postnatal depression but uniquely to the depression in pregnancy, highlighting the importance of the in utero environment,” says senior author on the study, Carmine Pariante.



Source: King’s College London via EurekAlert

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One Response to “Research Suggests Depression During Pregnancy Alters Baby’s Biology”

  1. Andrea
    July 20th, 2018 @ 11:39 am

    This kind of information is wonderful though a little worrisome for someone like me who battled depression during pregnancy. It would be uplifting if there were information regarding how to deal with this, e.g., how to reduce inflammation while pregnant, how to create a healthy gut biome for you and your child to ward off depression, signs to look for, and the like. I appreciate the great journalism that Raise Vegan puts out.

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