Sad mothers have small babies

August 25, 2010

Clinical depression and anxiety during pregnancy results in smaller babies that are more likely to die in infancy, according to new research published in the open access journal BMC Public Health. The study, which focused on women living in rural Bangladesh, provides the first finding of its kind in a non-Western population. The research indicates that mental health issues are likely to be a primary contributor to infant mortality and poor child health, above poverty, malnutrition or low socio-economic status.

A collaboration between researchers at the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden and the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) assessed the mental health of 720 women in the third trimester of pregnancy from two rural sub-districts of Bangladesh for symptoms of antepartum (Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale) and antepartum (State Trait Anxiety Inventory) and followed them until 6-8 months postpartum.

Infant birth weight of 81% babies born at term was measured within 48 hours of delivery and baseline data provided socio-economic, anthropometric, reproductive, obstetric and social support information. Lead researcher Hashima-E- Nasreen explains, "18% of the women we studied in two rural areas of Bangladesh were diagnosed as having depression and one-quarter as having anxiety during pregnancy, and these women were much more likely to give birth to very small babies. This is a worrying problem, since low birth weight is strongly associated with infant death, which may in turn perpetuate the cycle of and underdevelopment".

The study raises awareness of the significance of depression and anxiety leading to poor health in South Asian countries. It suggests that one way to reach the internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goal to reduce in the developing world would be to invest in support services in this area.

More information: Low birth weight in offspring of women with depressive and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy: Results from a population based study in Bangladesh, Hashima-E Nasreen, Zarina N Kabir, Yvonne Forsell and Maigun Edhborg, BMC Public Health (in press), www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.