PARENTS

Babies At Risk Of Poor Brain Development If Their Mums Are Depressed Or Anxious

09/06/2009 08:53 | Updated 22 May 2015

A child health expert has warned that babies that fail to receive stimulation and love in the first year are at risk of poor brain development and social skills.

Dr Cheryl Power, a clinical psychologist at Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust, says health professionals need to focus more on the mother-baby relationship.

Most mental health services only deal with either children or adults - not with family units, she says.

She told the Royal College of Psychiatrists annual meeting in Liverpool: "Mothers with mental health difficulties are compromised in how they are able to provide stimulation and how they are able to interact with infants.

"That will influence how a baby's brain develops, the relationship between mother and baby and have a negative cycle."

Dr Power says mental health services need to provide for the whole family, not just for the woman involved.

This all makes very good sense - but I'm pretty sure many mental health problems among mothers will not even be picked up by the authorities.

There is a severe shortage of health visitors and many are responsible for more than 1,000 children each.

When our baby was born, our health visitor came two or three times in the first two months and then stopped. According to a survey carried out last year this is a fairly common experience.

You can still phone a health visitor if you have a problem, but how many mothers with depression are going to admit to it?

So before we start worrying about mental health services providing for the whole family, perhaps they need to get the basics right.

What do you think? Did you get enough support from health professionals when you had your baby? Did you suffer from depression or anxiety and did you get the help you needed?

Suggest a correction