B3721 - Perinatal and postnatal risk factors for mental health symptoms in adolescence - 15/03/2021

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Steven Marwaha | University of Birmingham
Camilla Carr, Cristina Preece, Dr Isabel Morales Muñoz
Title of project: 
Perinatal and postnatal risk factors for mental health symptoms in adolescence
Proposal summary: 

Perinatal psychiatry is a relatively new, multidisciplinary field of psychiatry. Perinatal usually refers to the period immediately before and after birth, starting at the 20th to 28th week of gestation and ending 1 to 4 weeks after birth; while the postnatal period can be defined as the first 6-8 weeks after birth. Although knowledge is increasing, more research is needed to clarify the associations between parental and offspring mental illness.
The theory behind the potential associations between perinatal and postnatal risk factors and subsequent offspring mental health problems proposes that environmental stress, during pregnancy, such as life event exposure, may affect the neurodevelopment of the foetus and lead to an increased risk of psychopathology.
Among the perinatal and postnatal risk factors that have been investigated in the last years, maternal postnatal depression is one of the most relevant and studied risk factors, and thus most of the existing research is solely focused on this specific risk factor. Further, maternal postnatal depression is known to have an adverse effect on several aspects of child and adolescent development, including social, emotional, and cognitive function, and is associated with offspring depressive symptoms in adolescence and adulthood. Maternal postnatal depression might negatively affect bonding and parenting during infancy, which might affect offspring attachment style and increase the risk of psychotic experiences, among others.
In addition to postnatal depression, there are some other perinatal and postnatal risk factors that could be considered a form of psychological distress and that might reflect chronic maternal stress, which could affect the neurodevelopment of offspring. Among these risk factors, perinatal and postnatal maternal sleeping problems, family adversity, substance abuse, gestational age, or maternal age when birth could also play an important role in the development of subsequent mental health problems in adolescence, such as depressive and psychotic symptoms. However, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study investigating a range of relevant perinatal and postnatal risk factors for subsequent psychopathology in adolescence.

Impact of research: 
This research will provide novel information about the role of perinatal and postnatal risk factors for the development of offsprings depressive and psychotic symptoms in adolescence.
Date proposal received: 
Thursday, 11 March, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 15 March, 2021
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Mental health