Monthly Archives: May 2008

Melatonin in Pregnancy: Is it Safe?

Many women experience some degree of sleep disturbance during pregnancy. For a significant number of women, the sleep disruption may be so severe as to require some type of intervention. In a previous post, we discussed the use of different types of medications to treat insomnia during pregnancy. While these drugs are highly effective, many women with sleep problems inquire about the use of "natural" agents, such as melatonin, during pregnancy.

Maternal Stress and Low Birth Weight Predict Later Risk for Mood and Anxiety Disorders

It has been postulated that psychological stress in the mother, if present at a critical time of brain development, can permanently alter a child's response to stress and may have long-term negative consequences.  In response to stress, blood flow to the uterus is restricted and the fetus receives fewer nutrients, which may result in lower birth weight.  Several studies have demonstrated an association between maternal stress and low birth weight, and it is felt that low birth weight is a marker for stressful intrauterine conditions.

Depression is Common Following Successful IVF

Psychological symptoms play a significant role in infertility. Some studies have examined the impact of psychological symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression) on fertility status. Most of this research has focused on women with unsuccessful IVF treatment. Some have investigated the extent to which a woman's psychological state during assisted reproductive therapy (ART, which includes in vitro fertilization (IVF)) interferes with the success of the treatment.  ART itself has been shown in other studies to negatively impact a patient's psychological well-being, with prolonged treatment associated with increased depression and anxiety.

Stress During Pregnancy Increases ADHD Risk

While genetic factors are clearly important in determining a child’s risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), recent studies have investigated the link between exposure to certain maternal behaviors during pregnancy, such as smoking and alcohol use, and the risk of developing behavioral problems related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in childhood. While multiple studies have indicated a greater risk of ADHD symptoms among children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, contradictory findings were reported in studies focusing on exposure to alcohol. Results from studies investigating the impact of psychological stress during pregnancy have been inconsistent but suggest a possible contribution to ADHD symptoms int he offspring.

Eating Disorders in Pregnancy and Postpartum Depression

The British Medical Journal recently published a brief, but comprehensive review of eating disorders in pregnancy by Veronica Bridget Ward. Eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorder not otherwise specified) most commonly occur in women of reproductive age and may be influenced by pregnancy and its associated weight gain and change in body shape. Some women experience a worsening of eating disorder symptoms, while others improve, or remain unchanged throughout the course of the pregnancy.

Show Your Support for Postpartum Depression Legislation

Please sign this online petition to support passage of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. A companion bill passed in the House of Representatives last fall to a nearly unanimous bipartisan vote. Democratic Senators Obama and Clinton both support this legislation along with Republican Senators including Olympia Snowe of Maine. Please help us gain our target goal of 100,000 signatures for this petition.

Do Oral Contraceptives Cause Mood Changes?

Many women have concerns about the side effects of oral contraceptives (birth control pills). Potential side effects include bloating, breast tenderness, and weight gain. In addition, some women may experience depression or mood swings, side effects that may influence a woman’s decision to start taking a birth control pill, particularly if she has a history of depression.