Mothers who were severely depressed gave birth earlier than those without depression, a small study shows.The depressed mothers had significantly higher levels of a stress hormone which is known to initiate birth, an Institute of Psychiatry meeting heard. Experts said depression during pregnancy is common and the findings should be looked at in a bigger study.
Dr Veronica O'Keane, perinatal psychiatrist at King's College London, measured amounts of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), in 25 women who had a diagnosis of major depression (but were not on medication) and 35 women without depression. Levels of CRH - a hormone which is associated with stress but also naturally excreted by the placenta during pregnancy - were found to be higher in those with depression. On average mothers with depression gave birth two days earlier - but three of the mothers in the depressed group had a premature birth (under 37 weeks) compared with none in the control group.
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