Maternal depression affects thirteen percent of new mothers and approximately one in ten pregnant women. Women who suffer from maternal depression are less likely to implement safety procedures for their children such as “baby proofing” their homes. They are also less likely to implement sleeping and feeding routines for their children. Maternal depression is a serious issue for all women and recently, a study has found that women suffering from maternal depression treated with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) while can alter their newborn’s language abilities and cognitive development.
Cognitive development and language abilities begin while a baby is in the mother’s womb. This makes the prenatal environment of an infant crucial to language development and why maternal depression can have an extreme impact on development. The study, performed by the University of British Columbia, Harvard University and the Child and Family Care Research Institute has shed light on how important it is to treat maternal depression rather than ignore it. The study found that during the “language learning period”, which begins in the womb, a newborn begins to recognize different characteristics of different languages. This language learning period ends at approximately eight months after an infant is born. According to the study, the learning language period is not affected by the date of birth but by the date of conception.
The study followed three groups of women: (1) women suffering from maternal depression being treated with SRIs; (2) women suffering from maternal depression not being treated; and (3) pregnant women not suffering from maternal depression. The researchers were able to make this determination by tracking the infant’s eye movements and heart rates while the infant listened and watched videos of different languages. After following these groups, the study found that the children of women who took SRIs while pregnant were able to recognize language differences earlier than the children of the women suffering from maternal depression not being treated. This means that the learning language period was delayed for the infants whose mothers were not being treated for their maternal depression. Showing that treatment of maternal depression while pregnant can be beneficial to your child’s language development.
Maternal depression is a serious problem for pregnant women and mothers and it should not be ignored. This study is just one example of how maternal depression can affect the life and health of your child. A child’s development is important and maternal depression can affect it. If you are suffering from maternal depression it is important you seek help for you and your child.
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