Womb stress: child at risk for depression

Stress in the womb can cause depression later

If pregnant women are exposed to a lot of stress and tense, it can become a risk factor for depression in the child. This was the result of an investigation by Prof. Dr. Mathias Schwab, head of the Fetal Brain Development and Disease Programming group at the Jena University Hospital. According to the neurologist, the premature development of the dream sleep of unborn babies plays an important role in this.

Increased stress hormone levels and depression frequent changes in sleep stages are signs of depression Stress and tension during pregnancy can lead to premature sleep development in unborn babies. "While the brain is recovering in deep sleep, it is more active in dream sleep than in waking," says a press release for the 21st annual conference of the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), at which Schwab wants to present its research results.

Dream and deep sleep would also alternate more frequently under stress, the neurologist told the news agency "dpa". "In addition, the baby can become more sensitive to stress for life," Schwab continued. "If there are increased stress hormones in the baby's blood, the body thinks - figuratively - these increased values ​​are normal." Frequent changes in sleep stages and an increased level of stress hormones are signs of depression. This connection explains why "stress during pregnancy can be a risk factor for the development of depression later in life," said Schwab.

The expert for fetal brain development carried out his investigations using animal models, since sleeping in the womb is difficult to examine in humans. (ag)

Picture: Doctor, Pixelio

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