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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Depression holds children back

27th June 2008

A study has indicated that women who suffer depression during their pregnancy can have babies that develop more slowly than other children.


While post-natal depression is known to lead to this, researchers writing in the BJOG journal indicate that antenatal depression can also have an impact, leading to 34% greater chance of cognitive or behavioural problems.

And women who suffer persistent depression during pregnancy were 50% more likely to have children with diagnosed problems.

The study focussed on 11,098 women and their children born in 1991 and 1992. It assessed the level of depression in pregnancy and followed the development problems of the children.

Dr Toity Deave from the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health at the University of the West of England said: “The most important finding is that maternal antenatal depression has a negative impact on children’s cognitive development, even when postnatal depression has been taken into account.”

Professor Philip Steer, who is the editor of the BJOG journal, stressed the importance of doctors and midwives identifying depression.

The Royal College of Midwives say that in building a relationship with a pregnant woman, midwives were well placed to do that.

A spokesman said: “There is still a stigma attached to depression and mental illness in pregnancy, and sometimes it can help just to acknowledge there is a problem.

“Where the problem is more serious, midwives are trained to refer on to a GP or community psychiatric nurse so that a woman gets the support and help she needs.”


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