Not enough people understand the devastating consequences of postpartum depression. An estimated one in every nine women will have some symptoms after giving birth which include mood swings, fatigue and reduced interest in activities. This can certainly make it hard to bond with the baby and to get the things done that any new mother needs to do for herself and her child.
One interesting study conducted by Benjamin Nelson, Heidemarie Laurent and Nick Allen at the University of Oregon looked at how a mother’s depression affect her child’s stress levels and later cell health. They recruited 48 moms with 12 week old infants and followed them for 18 months. When the infants were six months old and then a year they were brought to the lab to be put through some mildly stressful tasks. The details of the study can be found here.
They found that when they collected saliva to see the length of the infants’ telomeres at 18 months, the worse the depression symptoms were in the mother, the higher the cortisol stress responses were in the infant. The study authors originally published their findings here.