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Prenatal depression linked to child’s depression later in life

Pregnant mothers with depression may see their child walk the same fate at age 18, a new study suggests.

“The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, examined possible associations between prenatal and postnatal depression in women and later depression of their children at age 18,” Medical News Today reported on its website.

The findings suggest that depressed pre- and postnatal mothers will raise children who have a higher risk of depression by their late teenage years.

“The findings show that children were more likely to have depression at age 18 if their mothers were depressed during the pregnancy, where depression was defined as increases in prenatal (also known as antenatal) maternal depression scores measured on self-reported depression questionnaires,” according to Medical News Today.

Women with postpartum depression were also represented in the results, but with a more specified demographic.

“The study also showed that postnatal depression in the mother was a risk factor for children's depression in late adolescence, but only in mothers with low educational attainment,” according to an article in the U.K.'s The Guardian.

The results however, are good news for the future of mental health care for expectant mothers, according to a news release from the Journal of American Medical Association, which recently published the study.

“The findings have important implications for the nature and timing of interventions aimed at preventing depression in the offspring of depressed mothers. In particular, the findings suggest that treating depression in pregnancy, irrespective of background, may be most effective,” the study reports, according to a press release from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

And depression during pregnancy isn't unusual.

CBS News reports, “According to government estimates, about 13 percent of new mothers and pregnant women experience depression. Postpartum depression, which is severe, long-lasting symptoms of depression that occur up to 1 year after having a child, can especially be dangerous.”

Emmilie Buchanan-Whitlock is an intern for the Deseret News. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Contact her by email: or on Twitter: emmiliewhitlock