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Maternal depression and bilingual households can impact infant language development
Date:2/17/2012

the sounds and sights of the native language, while maternal depression untreated by SRIs may prolong the period of tuning.

"At this point, we do not know if accelerating or delaying the achievement of these milestones of early infancy has any consequences on later language acquisition," says Werker, noting that she aims to address such questions in future studies. "However, these preliminary findings highlight the importance of environmental factors on infant development and put us in a better position to support not only optimal language development in children but also maternal well-being."

This study followed three groups of mothers one being treated for depression with SRIs, one with depression not taking antidepressants and one with no symptoms of depression. By measuring changes in heart rate and eye movement to sounds and video images of native and non-native languages, the researchers calculated the language development of babies at three intervals, including six and 10 months of age. Researchers also studied how the heart rates of unborn babies responded to languages at the age of 36 weeks in the uterus.

"Poor mental health during pregnancy is a major public health issue for mothers and their families" says co-author Dr. Tim Oberlander, a professor of developmental pediatrics at UBC and CFRI. "Non-treatment is never an option. While some infants might be at risk, others may benefit from mother's treatment with an SRI during their pregnancy. We are just not sure at this stage why some but not all infants are affected in the same way. It is really important that pregnant women discuss all treatment options with their physicians or midwives."


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Contact: Basil Waugh
basil.waugh@ubc.ca
University of British Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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