By Dr. Minal Mistry, Psychiatrist
What is postnatal depression?
In the past famous celebrities such as Courteney Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Brooke Shields have spoken openly about their experiences with Postnatal depression (PND). For example, Brooke Shields wrote a book called “Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression” (2006), highlighting her plight in not just trying to conceive (in vitro fertilization) but to also regain happiness after childbirth.
PND (also known as Postpartum depression) is a type of depression that may occur at any time up to a year after the birth of a child. The National Health Service (NHS), in United Kingdom (UK), describes the condition as affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth, but states that it can also affect fathers and partners.
With these sad stories of human suffering of a parent, during what should be a joyful time, it is often forgotten the impact PND also has on the developing child. This is an area that has required further research: a new UK study has now thrown light over this subject area.
Perinatal mental health services?
Having previously worked in an excellent perinatal mental health service, on the south coast of UK, I have been so impressed with the development of services for women with PND. I have been equally impressed with the evidence-based nature of our work to improve the care and treatment of mothers particularly in the postpartum phase.
Up to now research has suggested that the severity and persistence of PND may be factors in the outcome for the child. However, this new research published in the “JAMA Psychiatry” (2018) has raised the lid into the precise issues that can develop in the offspring of those mothers who had PND that was both severe and persistent.
What is this latest research study?
I have been so intrigued by this new study published by Dr. Elena Netsi, University of Oxford, and colleagues as it really does answer the question that have concerned us regarding the long-term impact of PND on children. The study actually used data from participants in the UK’s Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Not only was the follow up providing ample data for these new findings on the children, it also had the advantage of a very large sample size close to 10,000!
What did the study look at?
Regarding the MOTHER, the measurements of severity and persistence of PND were looked at:
Regarding the CHILD, there were 3 measures of children’s health:
What are the findings?
So, let’s cut to the chase: what did the research paper reveal? The following represents how BAD it can be for children of mothers with a persistent and severe PND, with increased risk at these respective ages:
Two other points of interest:
What is the significance of these results?
The results are concerning as it means that mothers, particularly if left with a severe and persistent PND, can lead to an increased risk of their child getting difficulties at various stages of their life. This can even manifest itself with how well they do in secondary education and their mental state as a teenager.
What should we do now?
Quite simply, we need to:
Cite this article as-
Minal Mistry (2018).Postnatal depression: new concerns of its impact on multiple areas in childhood. The Beautiful Space-A Journal of Mind, Art and Poetry. March 2018: TBSB128
Please check author names highlighted with each article.
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