Washington :A new study reveals that low levels of brain protein during pregnancy can increase risk of depression that can lead to low birth weight of newborn.
The protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) dips during pregnancy and it helps to regulate our moods and lower blood levels of BDNF have been associated with depression in multiple studies.
According to researchers from The Ohio State University, the disorder not only affects the mother’s mood, but has also been linked to influencing the newborn’s development,.
The study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, found that BDNF levels change during pregnancy and can cause depression in the mother and low birth weight in the baby.
“Our research shows BDNF levels change considerably across pregnancy and provide predictive value for depressive symptoms in women, as well as poor fetal growth. It’s notable that we observed a significant difference in BDNF in women of different races,” said study author Lisa M. Christian.
They took blood serum samples during and after pregnancy from 139 women and observed that BDNF levels dropped considerably from the first through the third trimesters and subsequently increased at postpartum.
The results revealed that lower BDNF levels at both the second and third trimesters predicted greater depressive symptoms in the third trimester.
In addition, women delivering low versus healthy weight infants showed significantly lower BDNF in the third trimester, but did not differ in depressive symptoms at any point during pregnancy, which suggests separate effects.
“Antidepressant medications have been shown to increase BDNF levels. This may be appropriate for some pregnant women, but is not without potential risks and side effects,” Christian stated.
“With approval from your physician, staying physically active during pregnancy can help maintain BDNF levels, which has benefits for a woman’s mood, as well as for her baby’s development,” Christian concluded.