, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1-14
Date: 04 Jan 2012

Untreated prenatal maternal depression and the potential risks to offspring: a review

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Abstract

Research exploring the effects of prenatal maternal depression on a developing fetus and child is underrepresented in the literature. Empirical papers have typically focused on the effects of postpartum depression (after birth) instead of prepartum depression (before birth). Disparate empirical findings have produced ongoing debate regarding the effects of prenatal depression on a developing fetus and later in infancy and early childhood. Even more controversial is determining the role of antidepressant medication on offspring outcomes and whether research that does not include the proper control population (e.g., unmedicated depressed participants) can adequately address questions about risks and benefits of treatment during pregnancy. The current review systematically summarizes the literature focusing on unmedicated prenatal depression and offspring outcome and concludes that prepartum depression is highly prevalent, is associated with negative outcomes in offspring, and remains understudied.