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Postpartum Depression May Lead to Shorter Kids: Study
Date:9/10/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Children of mothers who suffer from persistent postpartum depression are more likely to be very short at ages 4 and 5, new research finds.

Researchers examined data on 10,700 children from the nationally representative U.S. Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort. The children were born in 2001 and followed through 2007.

Children of mothers who were depressed during the first nine months of the child's life were 40 percent more likely to be at or below the 10th percentile for height at age 4, and 48 percent more likely to be at or below the 10th percentile for height at age 5 than children of mothers without depression.

Percentile compares how children measure up to other children the same age. Being in the 10th percentile means that the child is shorter than 90 percent of his or her peers.

"What we found is that mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms in the first year postpartum were more likely to have children who were shorter in stature in preschool and kindergarten age," said lead study author Pamela Surkan, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore. "This study points to another reason why it's really important for mothers to get help for depression during the postpartum period."

The study is published online Sept. 10 and in the October print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Experts aren't sure why maternal depression is associated with shorter children, but feeding practices and nutrition likely play a role, said Dr. Michelle Terry, an attending physician at Seattle Children's Hospital and clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

One symptom of depression can be loss of appetite. "If I'm not hungry, I might not be that interested in what anybody else is eating, including the baby," T
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