Pregnancy can be an exciting time for many women because it means the beginning or expansion of a family. However, those nine months can also be full of challenges, and it can be a struggle to maintain perfect health for the sake of both the mother and child.
A new study has suggested that a common sickness during pregnancy can actually lead to a serious mental health issue for those children that are exposed while in their mother’s womb.
Researchers found that children of women exposed to influenza during their pregnancy were more at risk for bipolar disorder, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers concluded that preventing flu during pregnancy could reduce the risk for bipolar disorder in children later on.
The study made note that other research has also found influenza during pregnancy to be linked to schizophrenia in children. Other complications or health issues during pregnancy can lead to mental health issues for children later on as well.
When pregnant women have mental health problems, this can lead to similar issues for their children. For example, a study published in the journal Child Development in 2010 stated that depression during pregnancy is linked to children’s antisocial behavior.
“Furthermore, women who are aggressive and disruptive in their own teen years are more likely to become depressed in pregnancy, so that the moms' history predicts their own children's antisocial behavior,” according to ScienceDaily.
Depression during pregnancy can have other effects on children as well.
“Children of depressed parents in general are highly vulnerable to depression, and long-term adjustment is sometimes a problem for the children of mothers with postpartum depression,” according to an article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
Women who are depressed during pregnancy might also be less likely to take good care of their health, and are prone to drink, smoke and eat poorly in order to cope with the depression.
“Their babies are often irritable and lethargic, with irregular sleep habits,” the article states. “These newborns may grow into infants who are underweight, slow learners, and emotionally unresponsive, with behavior problems such as aggression.”
In addition, an article from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health said that women who experience psychological stress during pregnancy could have children with mental health issues like ADHD, anxiety and mood symptoms.
For pregnant women and their fetuses exposed to the solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE), there could also be mental health complications in childhood. This solvent is used in industry and in dry-cleaning clothes.
A study in the journal Environmental Health found that PCE exposure during pregnancy could lead to increased risk for bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder for children, according to ScienceDaily.
What other pregnancy complications or health issues during pregnancy do you know of that can lead to mental health issues in children? Share in the Comments section.
Parboosing, Raveen and Bao, Yuanyuan, et. Al. Gestational Influenza and Bipolar Disorder in Adult Offspring. JAMA Psychiatry. Web. May 22, 2013.
ScienceDaily. Moms’ Depression in Pregnancy Tied to Antisocial Behavior in Teens. Web. May 22, 2013.
Harvard Mental Health Letter. Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. Depression during pregnancy and after. Web. May 22, 2013.
MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. Nonacs, Ruta. Stress During Pregnancy Increases ADHD Risk. Web. May 22, 2013.
ScienceDaily. PCE in Drinking Water Linked to an Increased Risk of Mental Illness, Study Suggests. Web. May 22, 2013.
Reviewed May 23, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith