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Mom's Depression Can Harm New Baby

October 25, 2010, 5:15 PM by Kelli Grant

Mom's Depression Can Harm New Baby
Postpartum depression can be devastating for new mothers but experts are now realizing the damaging effects it can also have on their newborns.

And pediatricians are now being asked to look for signs of the condition.

It's more than just the baby blues. New moms who suffer from postpartum depression can lose their appetite, have feelings of shame or guilt and can even have thoughts of harming themselves or the baby.

An estimated one out four mothers suffer from depression after giving birth. And the condition is not only damaging for the new mom, research shows it can also harm an infant's development.

Experts say those babies aren't as interactive, they're not as verbal and can grow up to be depressed. The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending pediatricians start screening new moms for depression. And they're urging these doctors to recommend counseling if the mother seems depressed. One way to tell is if the new mom is affectionate toward her baby.

"Watch out for the ones who are not happy about a new baby, watch out for ones that are not eating or sleeping. Don’t be afraid to ask how they’re doing,” Pediatrician Steven Ajl said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says every year more than 400,000 babies are born to depressed women.  Between 5 and 25 percent of women develop postpartum depression.

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