Mothers with depression 'risk underweight kids'
Geneva, August 2, 2011
Mothers with depressive symptoms are 40 per cent more likely to have underweight or stunted children than mothers in good mental health, according to a study.
For the first time, researchers have analysed 17 different studies of almost 14,000 mothers and their young children (mostly aged less than 24 months) in 11 developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America.
They found a strong link between maternal depressive symptoms and inadequate child growth, with more serious growth deficits found in children of mothers with more severe depression, said the research published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
"Maternal depression is associated with less responsive caregiving and a lower likelihood or shorter duration of breastfeeding,” says researcher Pamela Surkan, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US.
“However, we know that depression can be affordably treated in developing countries through interventions such as social support, group therapy or home visits,” Surkan said.
Estimates of maternal depression in developing countries vary from 15 to 57 per cent, partially due to the different ways countries measure depression.
According to the study early identification, treatment and prevention of maternal depression in developing countries would not only benefit the women but could improve child growth and, in turn, influence future population health and development. - TradeArabia News Service