The University of Auckland
Intergenerational disadvantage - Why maternal mental health matters.pdf (348.29 kB)

Intergenerational disadvantage: Why maternal mental health matters

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posted on 2021-05-19, 08:58 authored by Felicia LowFelicia Low, Peter GluckmanPeter Gluckman, Richie Poulton

The first of Koi Tū’s evidence briefs, this paper analyses and synthesises new research linking a mother’s prenatal mental health to the child’s brain development, and shows how this ties into the problem of intergenerational disadvantage in New Zealand.

Children whose mothers experienced depression/anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to have impaired brain (‘executive’) function, with lifelong consequences. This suggests that there is a biological contribution to intergenerational disadvantage, in addition to environmental factors, and that interventions focusing on maternal mental wellbeing to promote children’s brain function could have significant impact.


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University of Auckland