Gale, Catharine R.
Reduced gestational age associated with an increased likelihood of depression in later life
Evidence-Based Mental Health, 11, (1), . (doi:10.1136/ebmh.11.1.30).
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everal studies have shown that individuals born
with a lower birth weight have an increased risk
of depression as adults. Birth weight reflects
not just fetal growth but also length of gestation, yet
there has been little evidence to date on the effect of
gestational length on susceptibility to depression.
Raikkonen and colleagues addressed this gap by
measuring depressive symptoms in a cohort of men
and women aged around 61 for whom birth records
were available; they restricted the sample to term
births, thus avoiding the potential problem of
confounding due to prematurity or postmaturity. They
found that depressive symptoms increased with
shorter gestational length, independent of birth weight.
Although there was no association over the whole
range of birth weight and later risk of depression, those
born with a low birth weight (<2.5 kg) were more
likely to have depressive symptoms in later life, a
finding consistent with earlier research.
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