Maternal Depression and Factors in Abnormal development

Is there a direct relationship between children”s developmental stages and maternal depression? Research suggests that children”s development can be adversely affected by maternal depression. A depressed person has more negative cognitions than that of non-depressed counterparts. Depressed adults have also been found to demonstrate negative self-perceptions in their cognition, including negative internal, stable, and global attributions of events, and greater memory of, negative stimuli. In addition, depressed adults show high levels of self-punishment and low levels of self-reinforcement and self-efficacy.

Children of depressed mothers can be born with dysfunctional neuroregulatory mechanisms, brought on by abnormal fetus development caused internally by the mother”s depression during pregnancy. Such abnormal developments are thought to be due to the fetus” exposure to neuroendocrine alternations, which are associated with depression, that may cause constricted blood flow to the fetus. Some abnormal fetal developments manifested at birth include tendencies to respond in a particular style or assume certain behavioral traits. Research suggests that we must examine certain aspects of the fetal environment that may correlate with depression in pregnant women. In particular, two factors may be possible mechanisms of this abnormal development: reduced blood flow to the fetus and poor health behaviors on the part of the mother.

The first factor is reduced blood flow to the fetus. Studies show that in the third trimester of pregnancy, a maternal trait of anxiety is associated with impaired uterine blood flow. This decreased blood flow is associated with lower birth weights and less fetal movement during pregnancy. Depression acts as a stressor, and maternal stress is related to increased fetal heart rate during pregnancy and low attention orientation and arousal for newborns. We are able to see that maternal depression during pregnancy may have a serious impact on the fetus leading to difficulties for newborns.

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