An article published on www.medscape.com this week shows a negative impact of prenatal depression and postnatal depression on children’s brain development.
Researching Prenatal Depression Impact
Research was conducted under the supervision of Catherine Lebel, PhD, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She found that both prenatal depression and postpartum depression is linked to adverse cerebral cortex development in their young children.
The study looked at the depression scale readings of 52 women during all three trimesters of pregnancy and again 3 months after giving birth. Their children were given an MRI between the ages of 2.5 to 5 years old. The study revealed two types of fetal brain anomalies. Cortical thickness in two areas of the right hemisphere of the brain, and structural patterns of the white brain matter, were negatively affected by maternal depression. It was noted that most of the women did not have major depression that would have resulted in a diagnosis of depression.
“These types of changes suggest to us that the children whose mums were more depressed have a more mature pattern of brain structure. Their gray matter was thinner, and we know that with age, gray matter becomes thinner. So it looks like the kids whose mums were more depressed have this premature pattern of brain structure, almost like their brains are developing too soon,” said Dr Lebel.
“There is a lot of focus on postpartum depression, but prenatal depression exists, and it is actually quite common, and we have shown here that it is actually associated with children’s brain structures.” Dr Lebel added.
Prenatal Depression and Neurodevelopment
A related editorial was written by Amalia Londono Tobon, MD at Yale Child Study Center, New Haven, CT. She stated that current neuroscience suggests that one of the most vulnerable times for a person’s mental health is while they are in their mother’s womb. “A range of critical neurodevelopmental processes are taking place during this time… Given the complexity of this process, it is no surprise that small perturbations can lead to significant long-term consequences.” she writes.
Prenatal Massage Benefits Prenatal Depression
This adds yet another reason why massage therapy during pregnancy is so important. In addition to expected benefits like relieving muscular and skeletal aches and pains, by easing prenatal depression it also can help reduce the chance of preterm labor and improve infant brain development.
Are you ready to see your massage practice have benefits that extend to the next generation? Become a Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist through the Institute of Somatic Therapy. Click here for details and to enroll.