A new study shows that depression during pregnancy may affect your baby's brain development.
Last month, I shared a research study that showed depression during pregnancy can lead to preterm birth. As it turns out, depression during pregnancy may cause more than just preterm birth. A study led by the University of Michigan, and summarized in Medical News Today, has determined that there is an association between moms who were depressed during pregnancy delivering babies who had higher levels of stress hormones. Additionally, they noted behavioral and neurological differences. What does that mean? According to the study,
"The two possibilities are that they are either more sensitive to stress and respond more vigorously to it, or that they are less able to shut down their stress response," says the study's lead investigator, Delia M. Vazquez, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. (Source: Medical News Today)
While the research showed that two-week-old children who were born to depressed moms had lower muscle tone that babies born to moms who weren't depressed, they showed signs of "neurological maturity" -- quicker adjustment to a rattle, bell or light. Lower muscle tone isn't great, but is neurological maturity a bad thing? The researchers note that they aren't sure yet whether the changes are good (or bad) and what they mean for children in the long term. Of note,
While cautioning against alarm, the researchers recommended that mothers experiencing symptoms of depression during pregnancy talk to a therapist. They also noted that interventions aimed and mother-child bonding after birth can act as countermeasures, stimulating children's neurological development and lowering the possible effects of stress hormone production early in life.
I listed the signs of depression during pregnancy in my post last month. If you're concerned that you may be depressed, please talk to your doctor. Depression during pregnancy is common. This study noted that depression during pregnancy is one of the most common complications of pregnancy and that as many as one in five women experience depression during pregnancy.

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