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Prenatal depression raises offspring’s future depression risk

Thursday October 10, 2013
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Depression in pregnant women appears to increase the risk that their children will have depression at age 18, according to a British study.

Depression in late adolescence is a public health issue worldwide, and identifying early-life risk factors would be important to guide prevention and intervention efforts, according to background information in the study, which was published Oct. 9 on the website of JAMA Psychiatry.

Rebecca M. Pearson, PhD, of the University of Bristol, and colleagues examined possible associations between prenatal and postnatal depression in women and later depression in their children at age 18. The researchers analyzed a U.K. community-based study population with data from more than 4,500 parents and their adolescent children.

Study findings indicate children were 1.28 times more likely to have depression at age 18 if their mothers were depressed during the pregnancy, with depression defined as increases in prenatal maternal depression scores measured on self-reported depression questionnaires. Postnatal depression also was a risk factor among mothers with low education, but not for more educated mothers.

“The findings have important implications for the nature and timing of interventions aimed at preventing depression in the offspring of depressed mothers,” the authors wrote. “In particular, the findings suggest that treating depression in pregnancy, irrespective of background, may be most effective.”

Study abstract: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1748838


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