Many mothers experience severe mood swings shortly after birth. This so-called "bay blues" can develop into serious postpartum depression, also called postnatal depression. Researchers have now found that maternal obesity increases the risk of developing this type of depression.
Severe mood swings after birth
The period of pregnancy, childbirth and the time afterwards is an incredibly joyful experience for most women. According to a press release from the University of Regensburg, a variety of physical - especially hormonal and emotional - changes contribute to this Protect the mother from stress, make her calmer and provide her with the necessary caring behaviors. However, the time of birth is also associated with the risk of developing mental disorders - such as anxiety and depression. Around 20 to 25 percent of mothers experience mood swings within the first year after birth. These range from the so-called “postnatal blues” (“baby blues”), which can be overcome in a few days, through postnatal depression (also known as postpartum depression) to postnatal psychosis.
Effects on mothers, fathers and children
Although both mothers suffer from baby blues and many fathers struggle with puerperal depression, the causes of such disorders have hardly been investigated. This is particularly problematic given that the healthy development of the child can also suffer. So far, only a few risk factors have been identified. As reported by the University of Regensburg, this includes mental disorders before pregnancy, serious stressful events, smoking during pregnancy and overweight of the mother. University researchers have now gained further insights into this.
Fatty diets reduce stress tolerance
Regensburg scientist led by Prof. Dr. Inga Neumann (Chair of Animal Physiology and Neurobiology) and PD Dr. In a study funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), David Slattery investigated whether a high-fat diet influences normal changes in the behavior and stress physiology of the mother. The experiments were reported to be carried out on rodents who were given a special fat diet throughout the gestation period. They were able to demonstrate that the fatty diet not only increased body weight, but also increased mothers' anxiety behavior and also reduced the stress tolerance that is so typical of dams. In addition, the researchers were able to pinpoint the molecular changes in the stress system of the mother's body - in the area of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis.
Obesity is a risk factor for postnatal anxiety disorders
The university press release summarizes that the observations are further evidence that normal maternal changes are of great importance for the mental health of mother and child. They also show that fatty foods and obesity (obesity) are risk factors for the development of postnatal anxiety disorders in mothers. Furthermore, both factors reduce the development of an increased stress tolerance, which is actually typical for breastfeeding mothers. The results of the investigation were published in the scientific reports. (ad)