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Mothers Pass Depression to Kids, Study Finds

Oct 10, 2013 07:55 AM EDT
Pregnant woman
File photo of a pregnant woman.
(Photo : REUTERS/Regis Duvignau )

Some children are predisposed to depression even before coming into the world. A new study has found that kids born to depressed mums have a higher risk of developing the condition when compared to others.

The study was conducted by researchers at The University of Bristol and colleagues and included data of over 8,000 people. All the participants were a part of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Researchers found that risk of developing depression was 1.3 times higher for children born to mothers who were depressed during pregnancy, BBC reported.

Dr Rebecca Pearson, lead author of the study, told BBC that the latest research showed a co-relation between maternal and child depression, and not just a causal link.

The study, however, shows that it is important for mums to treat depression so that it doesn't affect their kids' health later. The research also found that women with low levels of education and had suffered from severe postpartum depression and also had a higher risk of developing the condition during teenage than others.

"The message is clear: helping women who are depressed in pregnancy will not only alleviate their suffering but also the suffering of the next generation," said Carmine Pariante, professor of biological psychiatry at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, according to the Guardian.

Prof Celso Arango of Gregorio Maranon General University Hospital, Madrid, believes that it is the stress hormones, such as cortisol, that might be behind the increased risk of depression in some children.

Researchers say this is just the tip of the iceberg and that more research is needed to find what makes some people more vulnerable to depression.

"Researchers are only just beginning to realise that it is not psychiatrists, psychologists or neuroscientists that are having the biggest impact on preventing mental health issues - it is gynaecologists," Arango told the Guardian."This is something that needs much more research as we have seen similar impacts in schizophrenia with increased risk in mothers that developed schizophrenia during the war and passed on an increased

The study is published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

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