Depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy may harm childhood development, study finds

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A mother’s depression and anxiety from conception through the first year of the baby’s life is associated with negative developmental outcomes through adolescence, according to a study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

That could affect a lot of women: About 15% to 23%of women worldwide experience anxiety during pregnancy, while 15% deal with anxiety after childbirth. Depression through pregnancy is estimated to affect 10% of women, and 15% face postpartum depression. The burden is greater for women who are experiencing poverty or are teen parents, according to Postpartum Support International.

A mother experiencing depression and anxiety before and after birth was moderately linked with her child’s deficits in language and cognitive and motor development in infancy.

The authors of the current study analyzed the association of perinatal depression and anxiety with social-emotional, cognitive, language, motor and adaptive behavior development in their offspring from infancy up to age 18. They also examined whether the timing of depression and anxiety, type of mental illness and offspring age affected the findings.