Is Your Mental Health a Risk For Your New Born Child?

Kids whose mothers experience rising levels of depression from the period before pregnancy until the months just after giving birth are at bigger risk of developing emotional, social and academic problems during their youth, as per researcher’s report.

A newly published seven-year study, which tracked mothers and their offspring from preconception until the kids were 5 years old, is the first to validate how changes in mothers’ level of sadness over time may impact early childhood behaviour and emotional well-being, the authors said.

Conclusions suggest that increase in mother’s indications of depression from preconception to postpartum contribute to children’s lower attention and behavioural control, which can raise the risk of mental issues in them,” said lead author Gabrielle Rinne. Parents should know, yet, that this can be spoken through early childhood intervention.

For the two-part study, the investigators first analysed data on 362 women most of whom were Black or Hispanic and from low-income backgrounds collected as part of a study by the Community Child Health Network, a collaboration among health scientists from UCLA and other institutions, along with community partners, that examined disparities in maternal and child health among poor and minority families.

The females, all of whom already had a young child, were trailed through a succeeding pregnancy and were questioned on four proceedings about their indications of depression once before becoming pregnant, twice during pregnancy and again roughly three months after their baby’s birth with investigators tracking how these symptoms changed over time.

Just under 75% of the women reported low indications of depression that didn’t change over the study period, while 12% had low symptoms that significantly increased and 7% had consistently high symptoms.

For the second part of the study, the investigators followed 125 of these women several years later. When their children were 4, or preschool age, the mothers were asked to label in detail their child’s temperament and behaviour mainly their practices of emotional distress and their ability to control their emotions.

Children of mothers whose depression had increased from preconception through the postpartum period attained significantly worse on the computer task than those whose mothers had reported steadily low symptoms of depression. Remarkably, there were no differences in performance between kids whose mothers had experienced steadily high depression and those whose mothers had consistently low depression.

The findings are available in the Journal of Affective Disorders. This study proposes that a pattern of increasing depression may adversely affect children, said senior author at UCLA who had a lead role in study design and in interview development. She distinguished that not all of these kids are destined to experience problems but highlighted that they are at higher risk of socio-emotional and behavioural issues and problems at school.

Children whose mothers consistently reported low symptoms of depression, she said, are not at risk. Mammas who experience despair or stress at multiple times should know the effects this can have on young children, the author added. They can seek appraisal and treatment from a doctor or mental health expert for their children and themselves. 

The calculation of a child to the family is a significant emotional and psychological adjustment that can involve both joy and distress, experts said. Maternal sadness is one of the most common difficulties of pregnancy and postpartum. The research’s findings, experts said, support the position of comprehensive mental health care at multiple periods of the reproductive life course, beginning even before pregnancy and continuing afterward particularly for moms who are feeling high level of distress at any point.