Prenatal Depression Linked with Asthma

Asthma Inhaler (Object)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dottie Mae

You probably know that depression can cause problems in pregnancy. Most of those problems have to do with your own well-being, the relationships you have with those around you, and your ability to enjoy this truly precious time of expectation. What you may not realize is that depression and anxiety may actually cause some physical problems for your baby in the long term.

A recent study done at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health looked at 279 women before, during, and after pregnancy. The findings that the study came up with were actually quite staggering.

Around 70 percent of mothers who experienced depression, anxiety, or stress during pregnancy had children that reported asthma-type wheezing before they turned five years old. Many exhibited symptoms of pediatric asthma, which can range in severity from a cough that lasts several days to full breathing emergencies.

Children are especially susceptible to future health risks during the prenatal period. The development of the organs – including the lungs, of course – can be hampered or otherwise negatively affected during pregnancy.

It will be interesting to see additional research on this as time goes on. Figuring out exactly how it is that maternal depression can affect the respiratory system of their developing baby will be key in being able to help reduce the number of incidents.

As a refresher, here are some of the key symptoms of depression. If you have more than one or two of these, you should talk to your doctor (regardless of whether or not you’re pregnant:

  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling helpless
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Persistently feeling sad
  • Thoughts of suicide

Depression can be treated during pregnancy. It’s important to get help if you think you might be depressed, and the fact that it could contribute to your child developing asthma is just one more reason.

So, what about you? Have you experienced depression during pregnancy?

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