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Mom’s Depression May Affect Kid’s Height

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BALTIMORE (CBS NEWS) - It is no secret that a child’s height may be influenced by their parents. However, new research suggests that mom’s emotional state after giving birth may also contribute to a child’s height.

A study found that children of mothers who had postpartum depression were more likely to be shorter than their classmates.

“Mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms in the first year postpartum were more likely to have children who were shorter in stature in preschool and kindergarten age,” study author Dr. Pamela Surkan, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said to HealthDay. “This study points to another reason why it’s really important for mothers to get help for depression during the postpartum period.”

Postpartum depression involves moderate-to-severe depression after a woman gives birth, occurring most often within the first three months after delivery, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Feelings of anxiety, irritation, tearfulness and restlessness are common in the week or two after pregnancy. These feelings, sometimes called the ‘baby blues,’ almost always go away shortly after without treatment. But postpartum depression may occur when the feelings do not fade away or when signs of depression start one or more months after childbirth.

For the new study, published September 10 in Pediatrics, researchers reviewed nationally representative birth data on more than 6,500 children to determine if mom’s depression nine months after giving birth negatively affected a child’s growth after his or her third birthday. They found that children of moms with mild-to-moderate or severe depression were 40 percent more likely to have a child below the tenth percentile in height by the time he or she was 4 years old, and 48 percent more likely by the time the child turned 5 years old.

Maternal depression was not tied to deficits in children’s weight at these ages.

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