Friday, September 3, 2010

Depression during pregnancy can lead to low birthweight

A new study suggests that depression during pregnancy could translate to a lower birth weight for baby. The study is of women in Bangledesh, though PPD is know to occur at similar rates across races and ethnicities. It's a reminder to health care workers to keep an eye on pregnant women for symptoms of depression and anxiety.

M was born at a normal birth weight - 6 pounds, 9 ounces. But she struggled greatly to gain weight. She's still quite small. During her last checkup two months ago, her pediatrician said she was in the 7th percentile for her age. She is healthy, he said, but just very small.

To me, her small size is related to my PPD. Because I was afraid of depression after birth, my obstetrician prescribed a hormone patch that would stave off symptoms. While it kept my hormones from going wacky, it was only a temporary fix. Eventually I had to peel that patch off for good.

Also, the patch affected my ability to produce milk. As a first-time mother, I didn't know what it felt like to produce milk. I didn't know my breasts were mostly empty. After I stopped using the patch, my milk came in and my daughter could eat. But she was greatly behind. She still is. But she's healthy.

Hopefully the children with low birth weights will have an opportunity to catch up, just like my daughter.

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