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Babies With Depressed Moms Could Face Problems Later On

Stress at the pregnant woman
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

Carrying a baby to full term is hard enough; staying positive and mentally and physically healthy during the nine months is an added hurdle. While it's a happy time, there's no denying that depression, a mental illness, effects many women during pregnancy. And while it can add stress to the whole process, there may be even longer-term problems that impact even the baby.

Researchers at the National University of Singapore have found that women who experience depression during their pregnancy gave birth to children that were more susceptible to mental illness, too.

Infants with depressed mothers showed signs of abnormal wiring in their amygdala, the part of the brain that controls emotions and stress and is also linked to anxiety disorders.

In other words, abnormal amygdala function can be passed from mother to child, even before birth.

Many believe that mothers should be monitored for mental health during pregnancy and should be treated for depression if they show signs—rather than waiting until after they've given birth. The study, which is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, helps back this assertion.

With childhood depression on the rise, intervention early on, even before birth, could prevent problems for kids later in life.

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