LOS ANGELES — A baby born to a woman who suffers depression during pregnancy stands a higher likelihood of becoming a depressed adolescent than does his or her nursery-mate born to a non-depressed mother, a new study finds.
A large British study also found that among those with less education, a mother’s postpartum depression — as well as a father’s depression following his baby’s birth — similarly raised the odds that that offspring would go on the become depressed. Mothers and fathers with more education who became depressed after a baby’s birth appeared less likely to sow the seeds of later depression in the child.
The child’s odds of going on to suffer depression rose steadily as the severity of his mother’s depression during pregnancy increased. And for women with lower education, a case of severe postpartum depression was linked to a higher likelihood that her child would suffer depression by late adolescence than if her postpartum symptoms were milder.
The findings, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, underscore the importance of treating depression in pregnant women, the authors wrote. And they suggest that a child whose mother was depressed while carrying him would be a good candidate for early intervention aimed at nipping melancholia in the bud.