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Smaller babies more prone to depression, anxiety later on
Date:12/4/2007

Turns out there might be some truth to the popular wisdom that plump babies are happy babies. A landmark public health study has found that people who had a low birth weight are more likely to experience depression and anxiety later in life.

We found that even people who had just mild or moderate symptoms of depression or anxiety over their life course were smaller babies than those who had better mental health, said lead author Ian Colman of the University of Albertas School of Public Health. It suggests a dose-response relationship. As birth weight progressively decreases, its more likely that an individual will suffer from mood disorders later in life.

The study, published in the December 2007 issue of Biological Psychiatry, analyzes information drawn from the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development, one of the longest-running cohort studies in the world. The survey tracked more than 4,600 people born in Great Britain in 1946 for symptoms of anxiety and depression over a 40-year period.

The results represent an important chapter in the nature versus nurture debate, supporting the theory that conditions in the womb do indeed have an effect on our future development.

The connection between birth weight and mental health isnt the only fascinating find made by Colman and colleagues at the University of Cambridge and University College London in England. One of the surprising findings from our research was that people who had worse mental health throughout their lives had also reached developmental milestoneslike standing and walking for the first timelater in life than those who had better mental health, said Colman.

The researchers emphasize they are not saying all small babies will experience poor mental health in the future. They also say this study is not about babies born full-term versus babies born premature, since the data collected back in 1946 made no mention of gestational age at
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Contact: Isabela C. Varela
isabela.varela@ualberta.ca
780-492-6041
University of Alberta
Source:Eurekalert

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