Can maternal depression increase infant risk of illness and growth impairment in developing countries?

Child Care Health Dev. 2002 Jan;28(1):51-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2214.2002.00239.x.


Despite relative improvement in living conditions and availability of modern healthcare, infant mortality rates continue to be very high in many developing countries. High rates of depression have also been reported in women in these countries. The continuous care and attention of children is a demanding task, and poor physical or mental health in mothers might be expected to have adverse consequences on their children's health, nutrition and psychological well-being. Review of published literature reveals very little research in developing countries on the association between poor mental health in mothers and the subsequent physical well-being of their children. We hypothesize that the level of care provided by mothers with depression may put their infants at higher risk of infection and impaired growth, compared with infants of mothers without depression. We outline approaches to test such a hypothesis in a developing country, and discuss its implications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Development*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Growth Disorders / complications
  • Growth Disorders / epidemiology
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant Welfare*
  • Maternal Welfare*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors