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Mother's depression can affect baby's brain: Study

Written by: QMI Agency

Dec. 4, 2013



A child born to a mother who was depressed during pregnancy has an increased risk of developing depression, a new study found.

The mother's depression can alter the baby's amygdala, a brain structure important for the regulation of emotion and stress, researchers at the National University of Singapore say.

While some studies have assessed children several years after birth to see if maternal depression affects the brain, the latest research looked at babies two weeks old and younger whose mothers self-reported they were depressed during their pregnancy.

The researchers used MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging scans) to determine if the amygdala's microstructure, or wiring, was abnormal.

The researchers said the results of the study, which appears in the journal Biological Psychiatry, show mothers-to-be should undergo mental-health screening early on in their pregnancies, and get treatment as soon as possible for depression.

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