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Mom's depression linked to kid's height

Published: Monday, Sept. 17 2012 10:02 a.m. MDT

Kids of moms who reported having symptoms of depression in the first year after giving birth, are more likely to be shorter than their peers, according to a new study.

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Children of mothers who reported having symptoms of depression in the first year after giving birth, are more likely to be shorter than their peers, according to a new study.

"What we found is that mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms in the first year postpartum were more likely to have children who were shorter in stature in preschool and kindergarten age," said lead study author Pamela Surkan, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore. "This study points to another reason why it's really important for mothers to get help for depression during the postpartum period."

The study will be published in the October print issue of the journal Pediatrics and online this week.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health analyzed the height data of more than 6,500 kids who were participating in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort from 2001 to 2007 in the U.S. The researchers studied the height of children at 9 months, age 4 and also at ages 5 or 6.

The study found that kids around age four with mothers with reported mild or moderate depression during their pregnancy were more than 40 percent more likely to be shorter than their peers, ABC News reported.

Previous research has found that a mother's postpartum depressive symptoms can influence growth during the first two years of a child’s life, but these new findings show the effects may persist in even older children, TIME reported.

While it remains unclear as to why maternal depression is associated with height in children, experts suggest that nutrition and feeding methods may play a role, Medical Daily reported.

"The hopelessness of depression often leads people not to seek the care that they need," Kenneth Robbins, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, who was not associated with the study, told ABC News. "If (mothers) can make the connection that this is not just affecting them but also affecting their family, it may become motivation to get the proper treatment."

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the Deseret News. She has lived in London and is an English graduate from Brigham Young University. Contact her at rachel.lowry@gmail.com or visit www.rachellowry.blogspot.com.

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