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Maternal Depression and IQ – Child Psychology and Parenting Blog: Child-Psych.org

This is a very personal subject for me, having waited until both my sons were in their teens to get treatment for my own depression. I want very much to inform other mothers of the risks and urge them to treat themselves first — so that their kids won’t have to get treatment later. It’s that simple. Mental Health Mom Blog.

In fact, having depression during pregnancy was associated with a drop of 3.34 IQ points by the time the child was 8 years old.This effect was found even after controlling for a number of factors that may be associated with depression during pregnancy, such maternal age, smoking, drinking, socio-economic status, maternal education, child’s gender, child’s birth weight, and whether or not the mother breast fed the baby.So it seems that depression during pregnancy may have a direct negative impact on the child’s intellectual development.

But why? What is it about depression during pregnancy that has such a negative impact on the child’s cognitive development?One possibility is that depression during pregnancy exposes the child to high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which may negatively impact the child’s brain development.The authors also discussed another possibility: that depression during pregnancy may impact the way mothers respond to their kids after birth. That is, being depressed during pregnancy often impacts how the mother interacts with the infant once the child is born, such as by reducing the mother’s responsiveness to the infants, which in turn may negatively impact the development of the kids cognitive skills. However, if this is the case, why is it that post-partum depression did not impact the kid’s IQ, given that post-partum depression also has a significant impact on maternal behaviors, including responsiveness?All in all, this study highlights the possibility that maternal depression during pregnancy may have a significant negative impact on the child’s intellectual skills. Fortunately, we have very effective interventions for depression, so I highly recommend expecting mothers to discuss their symptoms with their physicians or health care providers and to seek a referral to a mental health provider if necessary.

via Maternal Depression and IQ – Child Psychology and Parenting Blog: Child-Psych.org.

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