Depressed mums’ brains respond differently to babies’ cries

The brains of mums suffering postnatal depression respond differently to a crying baby than non-depressed mums, finds a new study


Depressed mums respond differently to their babies’ cries, according to brain scans taken in the US as part of a study into brain activity and depression.


The study looked at the scans of 22 women, all first time mums, with babies under the age of 18 months. Some had a history of depression while others had not suffered from the condition.

On hearing their baby cry, non depressed mums had more activity on both sides of the brain while depressed mums responded much less in areas of the brain connected to motivation.

This could mean that mums suffering postnatal depression (PND) may find it difficult to respond positively to their babies’ cries.

“A mother who is able to process and act upon relevant information will have more sensitive interactions with her infant, which, in turn, will allow the infant to develop its own regulation capacities,” said Professor Jennifer Ablow, from the University of Oregon.

The team hope to learn more about the way new mums interact with their babies to help reduce any impact depression could have on the mum-baby bond.


If you think you may be suffering from postnatal depression, speak to your GP. Find out more about the symptoms and what you can do.

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