Postnatal mental health impacts children.

Perinatal mental health refers to a woman’s mental health during #pregnancy and the first year after birth. This includes #mental health difficulties existing before and persisting into the pregnancy, as well as mental health problems that develop for the first time or are greatly exacerbated in the perinatal period.

Depression and anxiety affect 15–20% of women in the first year after birth. Despite this, an estimated 40–70% of women in the UK have no access to specialist perinatal mental health services. Perinatal depression, anxiety, and psychosis carry a total long-term cost to society (including health and social care use, productivity losses, infant death, emotional problems, and special educational needs) of an estimated £8.1 billion for each 1-year cohort of births in the.


A review about postnatal depression identified 1186 studies from which only 14 included the criteria. All of the studies involved community-based samples of mother-child dyads. The maternal age varied from 26-32 while the children age ranged from 14 months to 13 years old.


In early childhood, the impact of postnatal anxiety on child emotional problems was assessed by three studies. Garth-Niegel and colleagues found that mothers’ Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms at 8 weeks postpartum predicted elevated offspring socio-emotional problems at 2 years. In contrast to the PTSD symptoms, maternal reported symptoms of generalized anxiety in this study were not significantly related to offspring emotional problems after controlling for confounders.


O’Connor found that postnatal anxiety, assessed at 8-week postpartum, predicted emotional problems in both boys and girls aged 4 years. Prenoveau also found mothers’ persistent postnatal anxiety symptoms measured at 9 weeks and 2, 3, 6, 10, 14, and 24-month postpartum predicted mothers’ reports of children’s emotional problems at 24 months.



Only one study examined the impact of maternal anxiety during the first postnatal year on offspring emotional problems in middle childhood. It was found that postnatal anxiety at 8 weeks was a significant predictor of children’s emotional problems at 6 years.


The review systematically evaluated the evidence relating postnatal maternal anxiety to children’s emotional problems at different phases of development. It is possible that addressing maternal mental health, including anxiety in pregnancy, may, in turn, affect the mother’s relationship with her child and the overall family functioning, with widespread effects.

Source: The impact of maternal prenatal and postnatal anxiety on children’s emotional problems: a systematic review
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