The journal *Child Development* issued the following news release:

Depression In Pregnancy Tied To Antisocial Behavior In Offspring During Teens

Children from urban areas whose mothers suffer from depression during
pregnancy are more likely than others to show antisocial behavior,
including violent behavior, later in life.

Furthermore, women who are aggressive and disruptive in their own teen
years are more likely to become depressed in pregnancy, so that the
moms’ history predicts their own children’s antisocial behavior.

That’s the conclusion of a new longitudinal study conducted by
researchers at Cardiff University, King’s College London, and the
University of Bristol.

The research appears in the January/February 2010 issue of the journal
Child Development.

The study considered the role of mothers’ depression during pregnancy by
looking at 120 British youth from inner-city areas.

“Much attention has been given to the effects of postnatal depression on
young infants,” notes Dale F. Hay, professor of psychology at Cardiff
University in Wales, who worked on the study, “but depression during
pregnancy may also affect the unborn child.”

The youths’ mothers were interviewed while they were pregnant, after
they gave birth, and when their children were 4, 11, and 16 years old.

The study found that mothers who became depressed when pregnant were
four times as likely to have children who were violent at 16.

This was true for both boys and girls.

The mothers’ depression, in turn, was predicted by their own aggressive
and disruptive behavior as teens.

The link between depression in pregnancy and the children’s violence
couldn’t be explained by other factors in the families’ environments,
such as social class, ethnicity, or family structure; the mothers’ age,
education, marital status, or IQ; or depression at other times in the
children’s lives.

“Although it’s not yet clear exactly how depression in pregnancy might
set infants on a pathway toward increased antisocial behavior, our
findings suggest that women with a history of conduct problems who
become depressed in pregnancy may be in special need of support,”
according to Hay.


Blogger’s comment: I’d like to know about the kind of relationships that developed between the depressed mothers and their children. Does a mother who is depressed when she is pregnant go on to parent in certain ways that set the stage for insecurity and acting out later on, for example?  How secure were the attachments between the child and these mothers, for example?  I wonder if depression during pregnancy is just a red flag for something else that’s going to happen.