Wednesday June 19, 2019

Maternal Depression May Affect Child’s Brain Development at Critical Stages in Life

Women with higher depressive symptoms tended to have children with thinner frontal and temporal areas

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Representational image. Pixabay

Toronto, November 16, 2016: Depressive symptoms in women during and after pregnancy are linked to reduced thickness of the cortex — the outer layer of the brain responsible for complex thought and behaviour — in preschool-age kids, says a new study.

“Our findings underscore the importance of monitoring and supporting mental health in mothers not just in the post-partum period, but also during pregnancy,” said lead researcher Catherine Lebel of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

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The findings, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, suggest that a mother’s mood may affect her child’s brain development at critical stages in life.

Eighteen percent of women experience depression some time during pregnancy, and both peri-natal and post-partum depression have been associated with negative outcomes in children.

But the associations between maternal depression and abnormal brain structure in kids at this age was not known.

For the study, the researchers screened 52 women for depressive symptoms during each trimester of pregnancy and a few months after the child was born.

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The women ranged in the presence of symptoms, some with no or few symptoms, and some meeting the screening criteria for depression.

When the children reached about 2.5 to 5 years of age, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure their brain structure.

Women with higher depressive symptoms tended to have children with thinner frontal and temporal areas, cortical regions implicated in tasks involving inhibition and attention control.

The researchers also found an association between depressive symptoms and abnormal white matter in the frontal area, the fiber tracts connecting the region to other areas in the brain.

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These associations were only found when symptoms occurred during the second trimester and post-partum, suggesting these periods are particularly critical times for child brain development.

Abnormalities in brain structure during critical periods in development have often been associated with negative outcomes, such as learning disabilities and behavioural disorders, the researchers said. (IANS)

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Depression May Put Women at Risk of Chronic Diseases, Says Study

Women with both conditions — depression and chronic diseases — were more likely to come from low-income households, be overweight and inactive, smoke tobacco and drink alcohol

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Depression has significantly increased the risk of early death in women. Wikimedia

Women who experience symptoms of depression, even without a clinical diagnosis, are at an increased risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, according to a study.

The study, published in the journal American Psychological Association Health Psychology, examined 7,407 middle-aged women (45-50 years) for over 20 years.

During the study period, 43.2 per cent women experienced elevated symptoms of depression and just under half the cohort were diagnosed or took treatment for depression.

Of the total, 2,035 or 63.6 per cent developed multiple chronic diseases.

“These days many people suffer from multiple chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. We looked at how women progress in the development of these chronic diseases before and after the onset of depressive symptoms,” said Xiaolin Xu from the University of Queensland in Australia.

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Depression is a common mental disorder. Flickr

“Experiencing depressive symptoms appeared to amplify the risk of chronic illness,” Xu said, adding that women suffering from depression were 1.8 times more likely to have multiple chronic health conditions.

“After women started experiencing these symptoms, they were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from multiple chronic conditions compared to women without depressive symptoms,” he added.

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Women with both conditions — depression and chronic diseases — were more likely to come from low-income households, be overweight and inactive, smoke tobacco and drink alcohol.

“Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and reducing harmful behaviours could help prevent and slow the progression of multiple chronic diseases,” Xu said. (IANS)