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How psychological distress during pregnancy may affect the child

pregnant mom

I have talked extensively on how the mental health condition of a pregnant mum can affect the child yet unborn. I mentioned how anxiety may lead to preterm birth, anorexia (eating disorder) in pregnant moms may lead to complications like miscarriage and low birth weight, and how babies of mothers with mental illness are at risk of poor cognitive development.

New research shows that it doesn’t end there. Women who experience high levels of psychological distress (depression, stress, and anxiety) during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with aggressive behaviors and ADHD.

While this study stands out, it is not even because it is entirely new. In fact, other researchers have looked at how psychological distress during pregnancy may affect the child. But those studies didn’t really adjust for the psychological distress after birth. So it begs the question: What if the parent’s poor mental health while caring for the baby actually influenced the baby’s development and behavior?

This new study addresses that. After controlling for the mother’s psychological distress (stress, depression, and anxiety) after delivery, the researchers confirmed that stress during pregnancy in particular increased the child’s risk of behavioral problems. The mother’s postnatal condition had little or no significance.

And this is just another reason why we must promote not just good physical health but also mental well-being for pregnant moms. OB/GYNs have a role to play here, as they’ll need to assess their patients for mental issues alongside their physical condition.

And if you’re a pregnant mom, please remember that whatever you’re going through now may affect your unborn child. As much as you go for prenatal care, please don’t ignore the stress, anxiety, and depression you may be feeling. You want your child to have the best life. And it starts now.

Please get help. Get in touch with us at Hope Mental Health today.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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