Several articles on the list look at the impact of maternal depression on children’s development.  While previous studies have focused on the impact of postpartum depression, O’Leary and colleagues focus on the impact of depression occurring during pregnancy (antenatal depression).  Even after controlling for depressive symptoms after delivery, depression during pregnancy was associated with worse motor development at 6 months. Depression during pregnancy was also associated with lower language scores at 12 months; however, this effect was attenuated after controlling for maternal depression after delivery.  

Hentges and colleagues focused on stress experienced during pregnancy.  Prenatal stress was associated with both internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children.  


Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

Antenatal depression and the impact on infant cognitive, language and motor development at six and twelve months postpartum.

O’Leary N, Jairaj C, Molloy EJ, McAuliffe FM, Nixon E, O’Keane V.  Early Hum Dev. 2019 Jun 5;134:41-46.

Infants born to mothers with MDD during pregnancy had lower motor development scores at six months (M?=?95.48, SD?=?11.87) compared with controls (M?=?99.97, SD?=?10.64, p?=?.026) after controlling for maternal depression scores at the time of assessment. At twelve months, infants in the MDD group had lower language scores (M?=?87.33, SD?=?10.54) compared with controls (M?=?95.06, SD?=?11.78, p?=?.037) which attenuated after controlling for maternal concurrent depression.

A Developmental Cascade from Prenatal Stress to Child Internalizing and Externalizing Problems.

Hentges RF, Graham SA, Plamondon A, Tough S, Madigan S.  J Pediatr Psychol. 2019 Jun 5.

Prenatal stress was associated with both internalizing and externalizing problems via postnatal stress and child temperament. Prenatal stress was also associated with externalizing behaviors via increased hostile-reactive parenting. After accounting for postnatal factors, prenatal stress continued to have a direct effect on child internalizing, but not externalizing, symptoms.

Adversity in childhood and depression in pregnancy.

Wajid A, van Zanten SV, Mughal MK, Biringer A, Austin MP, Vermeyden L, Kingston D.  Arch Womens Ment Health. 2019 Apr 23. doi:

Researchers found a 2.5-fold increase in the odds of prenatal depression in women with an adverse childhood events (ACE) score of ??4. When examining the overall ACE score, lack of social support during pregnancy [AOR?=?4.16] and partner’s relationship [AOR?=?2.23] were associated with prenatal depression while among the individual ACE scores, living with a person who went to prison was found to be associated with prenatal depression even when controlling for all variables.

Combined effect of adverse childhood experiences and young age on self-harm ideation among postpartum women in Japan.

Doi S, Fujiwara T.  J Affect Disord. 2019 Apr 17;253:410-418.

Postpartum women with 3 or more ACEs and younger age (<25 years old) were 10.3 times more likely than those with no ACEs and older age to have self-harm ideation (95%CI = 5.3-20.2). This combined effect was also found in first-time mothers (OR = 7.6, 95%CI?=?3.2-17.9).

Validation of the MGMQ in screening for emotional difficulties in women during pregnancy.

Matthey S, Souter K, Valenti B, Ross-Hamid C.  J Affect Disord. 2019 May 23;256:156-163.

The MGMQ, which aims to detect a wide array of negative emotions, was used to screen women during pregnancy. The MGMQ showed good-excellent receiver operating characteristics (sensitivity specificity, positive predictive value) against diagnostic status for depression or anxiety disorders. Stability over several weeks was however low, indicating that, as with other measures, women’s mood can naturally change during the perinatal period.

Predicting postpartum depression among adolescent mothers: A systematic review of risk.

Hymas R, Girard LC.  J Affect Disord. 2019 Mar 1;246:873-885. doi:

In this review of 14 studies, several risk factors were implicated in the onset of adolescent PPD, including prior depression, lack of familial social support, and socio-economic hardship.

Randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of a breastfeeding relaxation intervention on maternal psychological state, breast milk outcomes, and infant behavior and growth.

Mohd Shukri NH, Wells J, Eaton S, Mukhtar F, Petelin A, Jenko-Pražnikar Z, Fewtrell M.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Jun 4.

In this RCT, a relaxation intervention for primiparous mothers decreased maternal stress, increased infant’s breast milk intake, lower milk cortisol levels, and increased infant sleep duration and weight gain.

Peritraumatic dissociation in childbirth-evoked posttraumatic stress and postpartum mental health.

Thiel F, Dekel S.  Arch Womens Ment Health. 2019 May 21.

Women who had assisted vaginal deliveries or unscheduled Cesareans reported higher peritraumatic dissociation levels than those who had regular vaginal deliveries or scheduled Cesareans. Peritraumatic dissociation predicted postpartum PTSD above and beyond premorbid and other childbirth-related factors.

Delivery mode is associated with maternal mental health following childbirth.

Dekel S, Ein-Dor T, Berman Z, Barsoumian IS, Agarwal S, Pitman RK.  Arch Womens Ment Health. 2019 Apr 30.

Women who underwent an unplanned cesarean had higher levels of childbirth-related PTSD symptoms. The risk for endorsing psychiatric symptoms increased by twofold following unplanned cesarean and was threefold for probable childbirth-related PTSD.

Gestational diabetes and risk of postpartum depressive symptoms: A meta-analysis of cohort studies.

Arafa A, Dong JY.  J Affect Disord. 2019 May 2;253:312-316.

Analyzing 10 cohort studies with a total population of 2,000,002, researchers found that women with gestational diabetes compared with those without it had a significantly increased risk of developing postpartum depressive symptoms (pooled RR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.09-1.60).

A Mobile App for the Self-Report of Psychological Well-Being During Pregnancy (BrightSelf): Qualitative Design Study.

Doherty K, Barry M, Marcano-Belisario J, Arnaud B, Morrison C, Car J, Doherty G.  JMIR Ment Health. 2018 Nov 27.  Free Article

Mobile technologies, such as the app BrightSelf, are potentially valuable tools for the early recognition of depressive symptoms, but complex design challenges must be addressed to enable their use in public health screening.

Depression and Menopause: An Update on Current Knowledge and Clinical Management for this Critical Window.

Soares CN.  Med Clin North Am. 2019 Jul;103(4):651-667. Review.



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