‘Depression can be passed on during pregnancy’

Posted on December 16, 2013

Pregnant women with depression can pass the condition on to their unborn babies, research has found.

A combination of genetic and environmental factors can put children at an increased risk of anxiety and mood disorders.

This is due to changes in a part of children’s brains called the amygdala, which is responsible for controlling emotion and stress and is linked to anxiety disorders.

Previous research has assessed children years after birth, but not looked at when the changes actually begin.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore asked 157 pregnant women to answer a questionnaire to ascertain their mental health during the 26th week of pregnancy.

Within two weeks of birth their babies were given MRI scans to look at the structure of their brains – in particular the amygdala.

It was found that the mother’s level of depression had no effect on its volume. However, researchers found reduced “structural connectivity”, or abnormal wiring, in the right amygdala of infants of more depressed mothers. The finding suggests that abnormal amygdala function can be transmitted from mothers to babies before birth.

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Category(s):Child Development, Depression, Pregnancy & Birthing

Source material from IOL Lifestyle