A fetus is sensitive to, and can be affected by, the expectant mother’s mental state, a new study suggests.
University of California, Irvine, researchers recruited pregnant women and tested them for depression before and after they gave birth. The women’s babies were tested after birth to assess how well they were developing.
Consistency in the mother’s mental state appeared to be important to a baby’s well-being. Development was best in babies with mothers who were either depression-free or had depression before and after giving birth.
Development was slower in babies born to mothers who went from depressed before birth to non-depressed after birth or from non-depressed before birth to depressed after birth, the investigators found.
The researchers said they were surprised by the strength of the finding, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.
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