Body and mind

Research suggests national tragedies could harm mental health of expecting mothers

REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

New research suggest that a plane crash, even one that takes place thousands of miles away, could adversely influence the mental health of pregnant women. This surprising conclusion emerged when, in the middle of an ongoing research project on the prenatal and postnatal mental health of women in the Netherlands, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing everyone aboard (mostly Dutch citizens). University of Tilburg researcher Victor Pop and his colleagues noticed their participants would list the crash as a “major life event” they’d experienced during their pregnancies, so they decided to look into its effects. Comparing the data of women in their third trimesters of pregnancy in 2013, before the national tragedy, with that of the women in 2014, the data revealed an increase in depression symptoms right after the plane crash. Nevertheless, the spike in depression seemed only temporary. One week after giving birth, the women who’d been pregnant during the plane crash were no more depressed than those who had given birth a year earlier. The researchers, however, are interested in following up on the children of those mothers indirectly affected by the MH17 tragedy, and plan to follow up when the babies are two years old.

Read the full story at LiveScience.

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