Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

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

  • Deana B. Davalos
  • Carly A. Yadon
  • Hope C. Tregellas
Review Article


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.


Prenatal depression Prepartum depression Fetal outcome Maternal depression Unmedicated depression 



This work was supported by the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). Special thanks to Brett Sharpe for help with database searches.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deana B. Davalos
    • 1
    • 4
  • Carly A. Yadon
    • 2
  • Hope C. Tregellas
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMissouri State UniversitySpringfieldUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Denver at Colorado Health Sciences CenterAuroraUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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