Research out of Sweden indicates that depression in pregnancy, particularly in women whose sons are diagnosed with asthma, is associated with significantly increased risk of chronic disease in children that are exposed to lower levels of environmental exposure.
The study published in Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed journal published by Nature, tracked the children of mothers who were depressed and those who did not have any symptoms of depression during pregnancy. The study found that parents with children who have asthma, defined as children with at least three cases of asthma per year for at least the past three years, had a 72 percent increased risk of developing chronic disease compared with the children of parents who did not have asthma.
“They found that if their child had asthma, their child had a much higher risk of developing diabetes,” Dr. Brian York, a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center, said in an interview. “A similar effect was seen for obesity and obesity-related diabetes.”
The findings come in the wake of a 2014 study by Dr. Peter Rokos, a scientist at the University of California-San Francisco, who found that about 10 percent of pregnant women who were depressed had children with asthma in which three or more cases of asthma were diagnosed per year during their pregnancy. This translates to about 1.75 million children whose mothers were clinically depressed during pregnancy.