Pregnancy can be an exciting time for many women because it means the beginning or expansion of a family. However, those nine months can also be full of challenges, and it can be a struggle to maintain perfect health for the sake of both the mother and child.
A new study has suggested that a common sickness during pregnancy can actually lead to a serious mental health issue for those children that are exposed while in their mother’s womb.
Researchers found that children of women exposed to influenza during their pregnancy were more at risk for bipolar disorder, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers concluded that preventing flu during pregnancy could reduce the risk for bipolar disorder in children later on.
The study made note that other research has also found influenza during pregnancy to be linked to schizophrenia in children. Other complications or health issues during pregnancy can lead to mental health issues for children later on as well.
When pregnant women have mental health problems, this can lead to similar issues for their children. For example, a study published in the journal Child Development in 2010 stated that depression during pregnancy is linked to children’s antisocial behavior.
“Furthermore, women who are aggressive and disruptive in their own teen years are more likely to become depressed in pregnancy, so that the moms' history predicts their own children's antisocial behavior,” according to ScienceDaily.
Depression during pregnancy can have other effects on children as well.
“Children of depressed parents in general are highly vulnerable to depression, and long-term adjustment is sometimes a problem for the children of mothers with postpartum depression,” according to an article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter.
Women who are depressed during pregnancy might also be less likely to take good care of their health, and are prone to drink, smoke and eat poorly in order to cope with the depression.
“Their babies are often irritable and lethargic, with irregular sleep habits,” the article states.