Depression in expectant father can also trigger premature birth: Study

There are various researches that have linked depression in expectant mothers to the health of the offspring. But now a recent study has also found an association between a depressed expectant father and child.

The new study at the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Stockholm (CHESS) has revealed that depression in both expectant mother and father increases the chance of premature birth. Chance of a moderate preterm birth increases by around 30-40 percent if the woman suffers from new and recurrent depression, say previous studies. The new study states that in case of fathers with new depression, the risk of a very preterm birth increases by 38 percent, though recurrent depression in fathers does not trigger a preterm birth.

According to a report in, depression is about using prescription antidepressant medication, or receiving outpatient/inpatient hospital care, from 12 months before conception to the end of the second trimester of pregnancy. When there is no depression in the 12 months prior to diagnosis, it comes under “new” cases. Rest of the cases come under “recurrent” depression.

“Depression of a partner can be considered to be a substantial source of stress for an expectant mother, and this may result in the increased risk of very preterm birth seen in our study. Paternal depression is also known to affect sperm quality, have epigenetic effects on the DNA of the baby, and can also affect placenta function. However, this risk seems to be reduced for recurrent paternal depression, indicating that perhaps treatment reduces the risk of preterm birth,” says Professor Anders Hjern, from CHESS in a report on

The study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, suggests that both parents should be alert about their mental condition during pregnancy and should seek expert help if required. Depression in an expectant mother can trigger early labor and cause low birth weight babies, according to experts. Dr Patrick O’Brien, an obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said, “Depression in pregnancy can be very serious for a woman and can also impact on the health of her baby. We know that between 12-20 percent women experience anxiety and/or depression during pregnancy and the first year after childbirth.”

Relation between depressed mother and child

Researchers have come up with various studies to show that depression in mothers should be taken seriously as it can affect the health of her child in various ways. Researchers at the National University of Singapore found that children face a high risk of getting anxiety and mood disorders if their mothers were depressed during pregnancy. The study, published in the Biological Psychiatry in 2013, emphasized on the fact that pregnant women should undergo mental health screening and treatment should start early during pregnancy and not after delivery.

Another study, conducted in 2013 at the University of Bristol in the U.K. and published in the JAMA Psychiatry, revealed that depression of expectant mothers increases the risk of the offspring to suffer from depression during teens.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have said in a recent study that daughters inherit corticolimbic system or the wiring in the brain structure from their mothers which can increase the risk of depression in daughters if the mother suffers from depression.

Government initiative

Depression is a common mental disorder and globally around 350 million people across all age groups suffer from depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Considering the alarming situation, for the first time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has come up with new recommendations for pregnant women. It says that pregnant women and new mothers need to be screened for depression after which they can be given treatment or referral if they are clinically depressed.

According to a report on, the task force has cited that 9 percent of pregnant women and 10 percent of new moms will go through a major depressive episode. “Expectant mothers need special recognition because of evidence showing that they can be accurately diagnosed and successfully treated, and because untreated depression harms not only the mother, but her child as well,” it says.

Living with mental problems can be saddening and depressing. Fighting depression and other mental health issues is not so difficult. One should monitor his mood, strengthen his social support system and stay in close touch with the doctor. Experts from the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can guide you to find the best treatment for any mental disorder. Call us anytime at 855-653-8178 for further information or chat online with a representative.