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Brain, neuroendocrine, and inflammatory alterations in perinatal depression, their association, and the influence on the offspring 

Perinatal depression is a condition that affects one in five women during pregnancy or the postpartum period, although it is believed that a large portion of women remain undiagnosed. This disorder not only directly affects the mother’s health but also the health and neurodevelopment of the newborn, as well as the establishment of the maternal-infant bond. 

During pregnancy, there are unique hormonal and role changes in the woman’s life stage. 

Recent research has demonstrated the presence of adaptive brain changes, both in terms of volume and function, that occur during pregnancy with the aim of promoting better adaptability in the mother to meet the needs of the newborn effectively. 

These brain changes are a natural and adaptive mechanism. It is thought that in women with perinatal depression, these changes occur anomalously, contributing to the manifestation of depressive symptoms and difficulties in establishing the maternal-infant bond. 

The objective of this project is to detect the brain alterations present in postpartum depression and evaluate their impact on the maternal-infant bond. Additionally, the relationship between neuroendocrine and inflammatory parameters will be investigated, as well as their connection to infant neurodevelopment. 

Specifically, in this study, an analysis of the depressive symptoms of the participants and the neurodevelopment of the newborns will be conducted. Other variables related to pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting will also be considered. Subsequently, an examination of the characteristic brain and hormonal alterations of perinatal depression will be performed. 

The ultimate goal is to integrate the findings obtained not only for the treatment of perinatal depression but also for its prevention and the prevention of neurodevelopmental problems in the newborn.  

Funding:

Proyectos de Investigación en Salud, Instituto de Salud Carlos III , PI21/00018, 79.860€

Principal Investigator

Daniel Bergé, Hospital del Mar Research Institute

Links

Information of the study at the Hospital del Mar Research Institute website