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August 29, 2010

Depressed mothers have smaller babies: Study

According to a new research, women that suffer from clinical depression & anxiety during their pregnancies, give birth to smaller babies that 've more risks of dying during infancy.

This was the first study of its kind to focus on a non-Western population, as it analyzed the mental health of 720 women living in rural Bangladesh. These women came from two rural sub-districts of Bangladesh & were in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Researchers from the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden in collaboration with the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), assessed them for symptoms of antepartum depression (Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale) & antepartum anxiety (State Trait Anxiety Inventory) & continued following them until 6-8 months postpartum.

81% of the babies born at term had their infant birth weight measured within 48 hours of delivery & to this added data based on anthropometric, reproductive, socio-economic, obstetric & social support information. “18% of the women we studied in two rural areas of Bangladesh were diagnosed as having depression & one-quarter as having anxiety during pregnancy & these women were much more likely to give birth to very small babies. 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 & underdevelopment,” explained the study's lead researcher, Hashima-E- Nasreen.

This study emphasizes the impact of depression and anxiety on the poor health of people women in South Asian countries, AlphaGalileo relates. As for infant mortality, mental health issues are likely to be the main cause, as well as for poor child health, more than poverty, malnutrition or low socio-economic status, & the only durable way of reducing infant deaths is to invest in mental health support services in this area.

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