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Babies may benefit from moms’ lasting melancholy

Stable emotional conditions before and after birth key in infants’ health

2:45pm, November 18, 2011

A double dose of mom’s depression may do a baby good.

Infants generally thrive physically and mentally if their mothers’ emotional condition, whether healthy or depressed, remains stable before and after birth, say psychologist Curt Sandman of the University of California, Irvine, and his colleagues. Kids whose mothers stayed depressed from the fourth month of pregnancy on displayed first-year mental and physical development comparable to that of youngsters whose mothers stayed emotionally healthy for the same stretch, Sandman’s team will report in Psychological Science.

In contrast, babies’ first-year physical and mental development lagged if their mothers’ emotional state during pregnancy changed after giving birth. That pattern held whether depression during pregnancy resolved after giving birth or depression first appeared after delivering a child.

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