Depression Can be Transmitted from Mother to Babies in The Womb

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depressed mother

By Nigel Boys

While previous research has shown that more and more children are suffering from depression, a new study from the National University of Singapore shows that depression or mental illnesses can even begin whilst the child is still in the womb.

During the study 157 women that were at the 26th week of their pregnancy filled out a questionnaire about the state of their mental health. After they had given birth, their babies had MRI scans when they were two weeks old.

The reason for the MRI’s was that researchers were looking for changes in part of the babies brains called the amygdala. They believe that this area of an unborn child’s brain can be affected if their mother is suffering from depression during their pregnancy.

This particular area of the brain apparently controls emotional responses, including feelings of anxiety or stress.

The study showed that while the actual size of the amygdala was not affected, even if the baby’s mothers had been suffering from depression during her pregnancy, there was some irregularity in the right side of this part of the baby’s brain if their mothers had been suffering depression.

The researchers concluded that depressed women during pregnancy can pass on something of their depression to their unborn child and this could lead to problems for the child with anxiety disorders or mental illness in later life.

Dr. John Krystal, editor of the journal, Biological Psychiatry, where the study was published, said the results show that pregnant women suffering from depression can alter certain parts of their unborn child’s brain and this, is an alarming find.

The doctor who is a leading expert in the areas of alcoholism, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorders at Yale University School of Medicine, went on to say that the danger to unborn infants can be reduced by the early screening and treatment of pregnant women who are suffering from depression.


  1. Poetictri

    December 9, 2013 at 11:43 am

    I have been studying and researching mental illness for over 20 years now and each individual case and person is unique.I find that there are a lot of internal /external situations and circumstances that play a vital role in depression and in many other mental illnesses.I am a child advocate for child abuse and sexual assault surviviors. Personally, I feel as though this is invaluable information to any mother or expecting mother so that we can help in to be proactive and not just reactive in situations like these because the sooner the treatment or therapy we can help the mother and children have a successful and productive life wholistically.As a community leader we should strive more to be supportive of our young children and mothers because all illnesses have to be cured no matter what the regiment is:medicinally,socially,culturally,etc…..My hope is that the world would look through the eyes of the sufferer and not only be sypatheric but empathetic………If it were you , how could you change or make the situation better…..

    • lavon R

      December 9, 2013 at 5:00 pm

      Perfectly stated!

  2. Cindie

    December 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Great study. Black folk do their loved ones a disservice when they pretend that mental illnesses don’t exist.

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