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Depression in Pregnancy May Lead to Antisocial Teens

To break unhealthy cycle, some moms-to-be may need special support, researchers say

FRIDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Teens whose mothers were depressed during pregnancy are at increased risk for antisocial behavior, including violence, a new study suggests.

The British researchers also found that women prone to aggressive and disruptive behavior in their teen years are more likely to become depressed during pregnancy, which shows that a mother's history predicts her children's antisocial behavior.

The study included 120 inner-city youth and their mothers. The children's mothers were interviewed while they were pregnant, after they gave birth, and when their children were 4, 11 and 16 years old.

Mothers who were depressed during pregnancy were four times more likely than normal to have boys and girls who were violent at age 16. The mothers' depression was predicted by their behavior problems as teens.

"Although it's not yet clear exactly how depression in pregnancy might set infants on a pathway toward increased antisocial behavior, our findings suggest that women with a history of conduct problems who become depressed in pregnancy may be in special need of support," Dale F. Hay, a professor of psychology at Cardiff University in Wales, said in a news release.

The study is published in the January/February issue of the journal Child Development.

More information

The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about depression during and after pregnancy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Society for Research in Child Development, news release, Feb. 5, 2010

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