Thursday, August 26, 2010

Study says half of mothers in poverty suffer depression

Poverty could cause another problem for child development according to a new study from the Urban Institute. The results of the study show that nearly half of all mothers in poverty who are raising infants show some signs of depression.

Experts fear that the depression could hurt the child's development as a depressed mother would be less likely to do things with the child. The study cites the example that depressed mothers breastfeed their children for four months on average, shorter than the recommended six or more.

From the Washington Post, writer Donna St. George describes the study further. You can also go to the Urban Institute's page on the study to learn more.

In what was described as the first detailed portrait of its kind, researchers reported that one in nine infants in poverty had a mother with severe depression and that such mothers typically breastfed their children for shorter periods than other mothers who were poor.

"A mom who is too sad to get up in the morning won't be able to take care of all of her child's practical needs," said researcher Olivia Golden, who co-authored the paper with two colleagues at the District-based Urban Institute. "If she is not able to take joy in her child, talk baby talk, play with the child - those are features of parenting that brain development research has told us contribute to babies' and toddlers' successful development."

The study said that even severe depression goes largely untreated among low-income mothers of infants, with just 30 percent speaking to a professional about a mental health problem during the year before the survey was conducted.

With at least 70 percent needing help, the problem is significant and "we should focus on closing that gap," Golden said.

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