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Maternal Sadness Affects Baby Size

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 27, 2010

Maternal Sadness Affects Baby SizeA new report suggests clinical depression and anxiety during pregnancy can result in smaller babies who are more likely to die in infancy.

The study, which focused on women living in rural Bangladesh, provides the first finding of its kind in a non-Western population.

The research indicates that mental health issues are likely to be a primary contributor to infant mortality and poor child health, above poverty, malnutrition or low socioeconomic status.

The study is published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.

A collaboration between researchers at the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) assessed the mental health of 720 women in the third trimester of pregnancy from two rural sub-districts of Bangladesh for symptoms of antepartum depression (Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale) and antepartum anxiety (State Trait Anxiety Inventory) and followed them until 6-8 months postpartum.

Infant birth weight of babies born at term was measured within 48 hours of delivery and baseline data provided socioeconomic, anthropometric, reproductive, obstetric and social support information.

Lead researcher Hashima-E- Nasreen explains, “18 percent of the women we studied in two rural areas of Bangladesh were diagnosed as having depression and one quarter as having anxiety during pregnancy, and these women were much more likely to give birth to very small babies.

“This is a worrying problem, since low birth weight is strongly associated with infant death, which may in turn perpetuate the cycle of mental health problems and underdevelopment.”

The study raises awareness of the significance of depression and anxiety leading to poor health in South Asian countries.

It suggests that one way to reach the internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality in the developing world would be to invest in mental health support services in this area.

Source: Biomed Central

 

APA Reference
Nauert, R. (2010). Maternal Sadness Affects Baby Size. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/27/maternal-sadness-affects-baby-size/17323.html