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Predisposition to depression in children during pregnancy?
Various studies have already shown that influences that women are exposed to during pregnancy can also affect their child's development. Now researchers want to find out whether immune reactions in pregnant women can cause depression later in life.
Effects on child development The influences that women are exposed to during pregnancy can have an impact on the development of their child: This has already been proven in numerous studies. As the Austrian "Kurier" writes online, it is certain that schizophrenia and autism in children can be caused by infectious diseases of pregnant mothers. According to the newspaper, Prof. Daniela Pollak-Monje Quiroga at the Department of Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology at the Medical University of Vienna is now investigating whether this also applies to depression in a three-year project by the Science Fund FWF.
Immune reactions during pregnancy For example, cellular and molecular processes that can lead to such a predisposition are to be analyzed using an animal model. The first goal of the work is to determine in mice whether depression-like behavior in later life of the children can actually be caused by immune reactions during pregnancy. “We are also interested in whether such an immune response is linked to changes in brain development and whether this is due to the ineffectiveness of a special growth factor. We also analyze structural, anatomical, molecular and functional changes in the brain, ”the newspaper writes about the researchers' other goals.
Depression is one of the most common psychological problems As the "Kurier" writes, mental illnesses such as depression are one of the most common and most severe psychological problems. However, one still knows very little about the responsible processes. For Prof. Pollak-Monje Quiroga, this is also one of the reasons why there are only limited options for diagnosing and treating such diseases: “There is no clinically objective diagnostic tool for depression. We rely on the joint appearance of various symptoms as a criterion. The same applies to the treatment - substances are still used that act on so-called monoamines, i.e. special neurotransmitters. The effect of which was discovered purely by accident over 50 years ago, is slowly starting to develop therapeutically and is accompanied by serious side effects or is completely ineffective for a large proportion of patients. "
Three-year study Over the next three years, the expert will look at the cellular and molecular processes that can lead to depression to help improve this situation. However, she wants to go one step further: “We will also look at genetic aspects. Certain genetic conditions may contribute to maternal immune responses leading to a later predisposition to depression later in pregnancy. We will clarify that. "
Stress as a risk factor In the previous year, a German study had indicated that if pregnant women are exposed to a lot of stress and are excessively tense, this can become a risk factor for depression in children. This was the result of an investigation by Prof. Dr. Mathias Schwab, head of the Fetal Brain Development and Disease Programming group at the Jena University Hospital. According to the neurologist, the premature development of the dream sleep of unborn babies plays an important role. The expert had also obtained his findings from animal models. (ad)
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