Feelings of depression during pregnancy have consequences for baby

About ten percent of women suffer from depression or depressive feelings during pregnancy. Epidemiologist Marleen van Gelder of Radboudumc: “We notice that from a social point of view there is a lot of attention for postpartum depression, i.e. when the baby is born. Depressive feelings during pregnancy are less visible, but our research shows that a considerable group of women suffer from this and that this can have consequences for the baby.”

This study pooled and analyzed data from more than 400,000 participants from 27 different studies to better understand the relationship between depressive symptoms during pregnancy, antidepressant use, and the risk of some common negative health outcomes for the child: preterm birth , low birth weight (less than 2500 grams), low weight relative to the duration of the pregnancy and a low Apgar score (a test that measures the health of the baby immediately after birth).

Increased risk of preterm birth or low Apgar score

It appears that women with (symptoms of) depression have an increased risk of a premature birth and a baby with a low Apgar score, even if no antidepressants were used. The use of certain antidepressants even gave a slightly higher risk. No increased risk of having a child with a low birth weight or a weight too low for the duration of the pregnancy was found in the group of women who did not take antidepressants or who took antidepressants.

Marleen van Gelder: “Based on these results, we conclude that depression during pregnancy should not be left untreated, since most of the risks were also seen in women with depressive feelings who had not taken antidepressants. This information can help healthcare providers and pregnant women decide whether the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risks to the unborn child.”

By: National Care Guide

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