Maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy are associated with amygdala hyperresponsivity in children
Number of pages
SourceEuropean Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 27, 1, (2018), pp. 57-64
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
PI Group Affective Neuroscience
PI Group Memory and Emotion
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Subject130 000 Cognitive Neurology & Memory; All institutes and research themes of the Radboud University Medical Center; Experimental Psychopathology and Treatment; Neurophysiology; Radboudumc 13: Stress-related disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience; Radboudumc 7: Neurodevelopmental disorders DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
Depression during pregnancy is highly prevalent and has a multitude of potential risks of the offspring. Among confirmed consequences is a higher risk of psychopathology. However, it is unknown how maternal depression may impact the child's brain to mediate this vulnerability. Here we studied amygdala functioning, using task-based functional MRI, in children aged 6-9 years as a function of prenatal maternal depressive symptoms selected from a prospective population-based sample (The Generation R Study). We show that children exposed to clinically relevant maternal depressive symptoms during pregnancy (N = 19) have increased amygdala responses to negative emotional faces compared to control children (N = 20) [F(1,36) 7.02, p = 0.022]. Strikingly, postnatal maternal depressive symptoms, obtained at 3 years after birth, did not explain this relation. Our findings are in line with a model in which prenatal depressive symptoms of the mother are associated with amygdala hyperresponsivity in her offspring, which may represent a risk factor for later-life psychopathology.
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