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Study finds prenatal, postpartum depression may not impact children

A review of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study has found prenatal and postpartum maternal depression is not detrimental to childhood development.

By Amy Wallace
Study finds prenatal, postpartum depression may not impact children
A study from Norway has found that maternal prenatal and postpartum depression has less of an impact on a child's psychological development than maternal depression during the preschool years. Photo by tookapic/PixaBay

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Researchers in Norway have found no significant negative psychological impacts on children born to mothers with prenatal or postpartum depression.

Previous research had shown a link between maternal prenatal and postpartum depression and child behavior problems.

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The study examined 11,599 families and 17,830 siblings from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study and found prenatal and postpartum maternal depression is not detrimental to children's psychological development.

Mothers reported depressive symptoms at 17 weeks and 30 weeks gestation as well as 6 months, 1.5, 3 and 5 years postpartum.

Researchers used sibling comparisons to account for genetic and shared environmental factors for the study.

The study did show significant effects on a child's psychological development from maternal depression during the preschool years. The effect of maternal depression on children seemed to increase with the child's age.

"We found that children of mothers who were depressed before and after birth had more mental health problems because they share risk genes with their mother; however, spending time with a depressed mother in the preschool years can be harmful to the child's mental health," Dr. Line C. Gjerde, of the Department of Mental Disorders, Norwegian Institute of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a press release.

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The study was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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