While we’ve previously discussed children of depressed mothers faring well in daycare, women in developing countries don’t have such luxuries available to them. Children of these mothers are between 15% and 40% more likely to be underweight or stunted.
Reuters reports that at most, half of developing world mommies suffer from depression because of poverty, marital conflict, domestic violence and a lack of ability to control their resources. The link between maternal mental health and child health was explained through dedication to parenting:
“Maternal depression is associated with less responsive caregiving and a lower likelihood or shorter duration of breastfeeding,” [lead researcher Pamela Surkan of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health] said in a statement.
Conversely, when a child’s health is poor, the mother is more likely to develop depressive symptoms. In places were resources are few and options are limited, mothers are potentially facing a downward spiral of declining mental health and the health of their baby. Unable to get better, they are in turn unable to provide and nurture their sick children who so desperately need them.
Maternal mental health does impact childrearing capabilities and should be treated as a valid illness in all people, especially parents.