When Akiya Parks first got to campus at the University of Florida, everything was new and exciting. Her mom and brother had driven her to campus and moved her into the dorms, she’d agreed to try a long-distance relationship with her high school boyfriend, she was ready to start a new chapter in Gainesville.
This was a dream come true: No one in Parks’ family had ever gone to college before, and her good grades, volunteer work and commitment to her community had earned her a full-ride scholarship — nearly everything was paid for. She got a new laptop, she bonded with her roommate and she crafted her schedule.
But a few weeks into classes, she started feeling sick. At first, she thought college food just wasn’t sitting well, but it wasn’t the food.
A baby born to a woman who suffers depression during pregnancy stands a higher likelihood of becoming a depressed adolescent than does his or her nursery-mate born to a nondepressed mother, a new study finds.
A large British study also found that among those with less education, a mother’s postpartum depression — as well as a father’s depression following his baby’s birth — similarly raised the odds that that offspring would go on the become depressed. Mothers and fathers with more education who became depressed after a baby’s birth appeared less likely to sow the seeds of later depression in the child.
The child’s odds of going on to suffer depression rose steadily as the severity of his mother’s depression during pregnancy increased. And for women with lower education, a case of severe postpartum depression was linked to a higher likelihood that her child would suffer depression by late adolescence than if her postpartum symptoms were milder.
The findings, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, underscore the importance of treating depression in pregnant women, the authors wrote. And they suggest that a child whose mother was depressed while carrying him would be a good candidate for early intervention aimed at nipping melancholia in the bud.
Boys born to mothers who needed their doctor to start or help along the birth may have a higher risk of autism, a study found.
Boys whose mothers had labors that were induced, which stimulates the uterus to bring on contractions, or augmented, which increases the strength, duration and frequency of contractions, had a 35 percent greater risk of autism then children whose mothers didn’t need those procedures to help the births, according to research in JAMA Pediatrics.
The study released yesterday is the largest to examine the potential link between birth procedures and autism and to find that males may be more affected than females, said Simon Gregory, the lead author. While induced labors help reduce deaths among mothers and babies, more studies are needed to better understand why these procedures may raise autism risk, he said.
“The study shows there is an elevated risk around augmentation and induction, however we haven’t found cause and effect,” Gregory, an associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said in a telephone interview. “The results don’t dictate there be any change in any clinical practices surrounding birth. The dangers to the mothers and the infants by not inducting or augmenting far outweigh the elevated risk for development of autism.”