Depressed Mothers Respond Less to Babies’ Cries

By Staff Writer

Women who fail to seek treatment from drug rehab and mental health facilities for depression may be risking more than just their own health. A new study has shown that depressed mothers show less of a response to the cries of their children than healthy women.

The ways that mothers respond when their children cry have a lot to do with the offspring’s development. A mother who fails to react when her baby is crying could cause permanent damage to that child’s emotional wellbeing.

For the study, researchers from the University of Oregon submitted a group of 22 new mothers to MRI brain scans while playing a recording of the women’s babies crying. Participants who had been diagnosed with depression showed much less activity in areas of the brain that are associated with processing rewards and stimulating motivation.

Earlier investigations suggested that depressed mothers may respond negatively to the sound of their child crying. However, this study showed that there is almost a complete lack of response, whether positive or negative. The researchers said that this underscores the importance for depressed mothers to seek treatment.