Babies of depressed mothers would sleep less well


Babies born to mothers who have no university degree, depression during pregnancy or emergency cesarean section sleep less well at three months of age, warns a Canadian study that collaborated a Quebec researcher.

The art of Alberta researchers at the University and have found that mothers without a university degree have a greater risk of depression before or after the birth of their child, or just before birth than women who have a diploma.

Babies born to these mothers slept an average of 13.94 hours a day, 23 minutes less than babies born to mothers with a university degree. The National Sleep Foundation of the United States recommends that infants aged three months sleep between 14 and 17 hours a day.

The findings of this study, which was published by the medical journal Sleep Medicine , are based on a review of 619 babies and their mothers participating in CHILD, a large health, lifestyle survey. , genetics and the environment of nearly 3,500 children and their families, from pregnancy to adolescence.

Cortisol level

The common denominator between lack of a university degree, depression and emergency cesarean section seems to be cortisol, sometimes called a stress hormone, explained Catherine Laprise, who teaches at the University of Quebec’s Department of Basic Sciences in Quebec. Chicoutimi.

“Stress and anxiety generate cortisol, like the one that is generated during an emergency cesarean, and it exposes the baby during pregnancy to cortisol levels that are higher than if you are in a situation of more favorable […] development, she said. It is hypothesized that the baby is exposed to cortisol, a substance that would be […] unfavorable [and] that could lead to […] environmental changes to the genome, and thus to biological changes for the newborn. born.”

A mother with less education, she says, may have a lower family income, a less favorable place to live and a lower socio-economic status.

Just an assumption

“We always said we transfer to our baby when you are pregnant a few of our fears, said M me Laprise. Elderly people told us that and they were not wrong, because all that we will produce in terms of biological molecules while we are pregnant […] is in contact with the newborn and has the potential to bring an impact for that unborn baby. So, this exposure to cortisol for the newborn at an early stage, it could affect his childhood sleep and make it has a less good ability to have a good restful sleep. But we are in the hypotheses. ”

In the case of an emergency cesarean section, instead of being exposed to small daily doses of cortisol by her stressed or depressed mother, the baby will be exposed to a massive dose within a few hours, when the pregnancy will suddenly take a disturbing turn.

“Even if it’s a single event, it still brings a high level of free cortisol, and it could lead to an exaggerated stress response in infants, and it could have a negative impact on their sleep,” said Ms. Laprise, who is a member of the CHILD Scientific Committee and the Evaluation Committee for Scientific Publications.

The statistics compiled by the researchers tend to show that it is the urgency of caesarean section that is involved, more than the intervention itself: a baby born during a planned cesarean section or natural birth will sleep an hour longer at the age of three months; the baby born by emergency caesarean section will sleep an hour less.

Fortunately, these changes are reversible, provides M me Laprise. If we offer mothers who need quality supervision in terms of prevention, promotion of healthy lifestyle, environment and other, “all this can be in order.”

“This is not the beginning of a story that will continue,” she said.

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