Depression Causes Preemies

Depression is more dangerous before the baby is born, researchers say
By Julia ,  Newser User
Posted Apr 4, 2007 8:40 AM CDT
Premature babies ward. Treatments given to a new-born in an incubator. Service des prtur Soins donnn nouveau-nn couveuse. (PAR158788)    (Magnum Photos)

(Newser) – Most new mothers with post-partum depression are ill long before their babies are born, the first study of clinical depression during pregnancy has found. The research, conducted at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, shows that depression, triggered by a natural increase in stress hormones during pregnancy, is a "hidden" cause of infant mortality, the FT reports.

Thousands of infants could be saved each year by treating pregnant women with antidepressants, the researchers say, but  the stigma of using drugs during pregnancy makes doctors reluctant to prescribe them. “It is thought wrongly that, if the woman can struggle through the pregnancy without medication, this will be good for the baby,” said one of the authors, Veronica O’Keane.