loader image

Effect of Postpartum Depression on Child Development

There are some common psychiatric disorders that can occur following childbirth, also known as postpartum. These common psychiatric disorders are postpartum blues, postpartum psychosis and postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is one of the common disorders with a global prevalence of 100-150 per 100 births. 

Postpartum depression is a major mental health issue for many women with symptoms such as difficulty bonding with the baby, intense irritability, loss of appetite and insomnia. If untreated, these symptoms can prevail for a long time and can have severely damaging effects. Antidepressants, hormone therapy and psychotherapy are the most common interventions used in the treatment of postpartum depression. 

Moreover, one of the lasting effects of postpartum depression is child development. Mother-infant relationship can be severely affected due to this psychiatric disorder. The effects are further discussed in this article.

1. Emotional Development

When a mother suffers from postpartum depression, the child’s development is also hampered due to this disorder. Children develop insecure attachment which can further affect there play and exploration capabilities. These children also present emotional difficulties in development such as lower interactive behaviour, less concentration, less affective sharing, more negative responses and less sociability.

2. Cognitive Development

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is one disorder which is at higher risk in children if their mother suffered from postpartum depression. Poor motor development has also been observed in children. Language and IQ are the other two cognitive delays that are also observed, particularly in boys.

3. Behaviour

Relationship between postpartum depression and conduct disorder has been observed in research. Conduct disorder has been defined as persistent patterns of behaviour that violates rules and social norms. Some example of these is destruction to property, aggression to people or animals and theft or deceitfulness.

4. Sleep

Infant sleep problems is another area that is affected due to postpartum depression. This sleep problem can further accentuate symptoms of depression in the mother. 

These are some prevalent development delays in the child when their mother suffers from postpartum depression. Moreover, emotional development, cognitive development, behaviour and sleep play a pivotal role in the holistic development of the child. Seeking treatment at the right time can reduce symptoms of postpartum depression and improve the overall development of the child. 

Grace, S. L., et al. “The Effect of Postpartum Depression on Child Cognitive Development and Behavior: A Review and Critical Analysis of the Literature.” Archives of Womens Mental Health, vol. 6, no. 4, Jan. 2003, pp. 263–274., doi:10.1007/s00737-003-0024-6.
Hiscock, H., & Wake, M. (2001). Infant Sleep Problems and Postnatal Depression: A Community-Based Study. Pediatrics, 107(6), 1317–1322. doi: 10.1542/peds.107.6.1317

1 thought on “Effect of Postpartum Depression on Child Development”

  1. Pingback: MHT Podcast | Survivor Series | Ep. 02: A mother's rendition of "Baby Blues" | Mental Health Today

Leave a Comment