Researchers at the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden and at the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee tracked 720 women in rural Bangladesh -- beginning in the women's third trimester of pregnancy and up to eight months after their babies was born. They found 18 percent suffered from clinical depression and one-quarter had anxiety.
"These women were much more likely to give birth to very small babies," lead researcher Hashima-E-Nasreen says in a statement. "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, published in BioMed Central's Public Health, suggests a way to reach the internationally-agreed upon Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality in the developing world would be to invest in mental health support services.
The symptoms of ante-partum depression were assessed using the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale, and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory was used to assess symptoms of anxiety, the study says.