Prenatal risk factors for depression: a critical review of the evidence and potential mechanisms

J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2014 Oct;5(5):339-50. doi: 10.1017/S2040174414000324. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


Exposure to adverse experiences in early life increases the risk of depression during adulthood. Recent findings have highlighted that exposure of a fetus to an adverse intrauterine environment may also have implications for later offspring depression. This review considers the status of the evidence for these associations and the potential mechanisms underlying prenatal developmental risks for later depression, addressing the challenging possibility that environmental predisposition to depression may begin before birth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Cannabis / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / complications
  • Maternal Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications