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Can Maternal Depression Affect your Child’s Health?

maternal depressionGUEST POST BY: Florence Aguilar, R.N.

Whether it is self-inflicted melancholy or despondency that results from a gamut of external factors (loss of work, bankruptcy, terminal illness, death of a loved one, etc.), new moms suffering with maternal depression should understand the negative effects it has on their children.

While it is okay to feel depressed when you lose someone or something you love (see Kubler-Ross’ Five Stages of Grief), prolonged maternal depression, more than what is deemed acceptable, is considered unhealthy both for the mother and her child.

According to a study done in New York City, mothers who felt depressed were more likely to have five your old children who skipped breakfast, had problems sleeping and spend less time playing outdoors, compared with children who’s mothers did not have symptoms of maternal depression. The study says that depression can possibly lead to poor parenting practices.

The scientists who conducted the study observed four hundred and one low income mothers in the city of New York as well as their corresponding five year old children. At the end of the study it was found that nearly one fourth of those mothers manifested symptoms of depression. It is important that we get to know the symptoms of maternal depression so immediate action can be taken. Consulting your primary health practitioner is by far the best option you can have. They will be the one to confirm if you are indeed a positive candidate for depression. The following are known symptoms of clinical depression:

  • Feeling of worthlessness or guilt almost every single day
  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
  • Fatigue or loss of energy/anergia
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inability to concentrate and distractibility
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia almost every day
  • Irritability or frustration even over the little things
  • Restlessness
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or death
  • Dramatic weight loss or gain (more than five percent of body weight in one month)
  • Marked diminished interest in everyday activities
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Changes in appetite
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason

Going back to the study, the children of women who experienced moderate to severe depression were overweight and obese while the children of women who had mild depression were still able to enjoy and consume sweetened drinks but were still less likely to eat breakfast as compared to the kids of mothers who were not depressed at all. This was according to the July to August issue of the Academic Pediatrics journal.

In addition, mothers who were clinically diagnosed with mild depression had greater chances of having an overweight child compared to a woman who is not depressed at all. It seems that mothers who manifested depressive symptoms failed to set limits and restrict their child’s intake of food leading to poor and unhealthy eating habits. This of course explains why children of depressive mothers are more at risk of becoming overweight and obese. The results of this study supported the need to screen mothers for depression to prevent childhood obesity.


Florence Aguilar – A registered nurse working for, is an avid health writer who keeps himself abreast of the latest research and studies on Tongkat Ali Extract and Health Topics. He believes in the benefits of continued learning and aims to inspire and make the world a better place for both men and women through her writings.


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