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Postpartum depression may affect child's height

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Having a baby can be one of the most joyous times of a woman's life, but physical and emotional changes sometimes leave new moms feeling depressed. Now research shows if these ‘baby blues' don't go away quickly, the child can be affected in a surprising way.

Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can last for months or years. A study at Johns Hopkins University now shows the consequences might last a lifetime – in your child's height.

Researchers say kids of depressed moms have as much as a 48 percent greater chance of being among the shortest kids once they hit kindergarten.

Dr. Amy Sullivan did not take part in the study, but is a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic. She says the reason is related to nutrition.

"Mothers with postpartum depression struggle with best feeding practices," says Sullivan. "So, they don't do the recommended breastfeeding. They seem to cut off their breast feeding at shorter times and duration than mothers without postpartum depression. And they also found attachment issues. And as we know as psychologists, people with attachment issues tend to have more anxiety."

This anxiety in children can affect their growth hormones.

It's common to experience mood swings and crying spells after giving birth, so it can be confusing to know when you need professional help.

"Spouses, significant others, family members need to help mothers identify this, because sometimes when people are in the height of depression and they are new mothers they're overwhelmed by both," says Sullivan.


Dr. Sullivan says depression is not a character flaw, and prompt treatment can manage symptoms and help a mom enjoy her new baby.

Suicidal thoughts and inability to take care of the new baby are among the worst signs. Don't write them off if you or someone you know feels this way.

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