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article imageBiomarker for depression during pregnancy detected

By Tim Sandle     Jan 16, 2017 in Health
Many women who are pregnant suffer from depression, with some medics putting the rate at one in seven. To assist medics in detecting the likelihood of a woman suffering from depression a biological marker has been detected.
Depression during pregnancy can have a considerable impact; not only does it affect the mood of the other, there are some indications that it can influence the development of the newborn child. An example of the effect on the baby is low birth weight.
In order to assess the likelihood of depression and to assist medics in developing the appropriate treatment, medics have traced a biological marker (‘biomarker’). The biomarker is brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and it can be detected via a blood test. Here scientists from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have found that brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels shift during pregnancy, and alternations can trigger depression.
Commenting on the significance of this, the lead researcher, Professor Lisa M. Christian told Digital Journal: “Our research shows brain-derived neurotrophic factor 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 brain-derived neurotrophic factor in women of different races.”
To identify the biomarker a study was set up where blood serum samples were taken during and after pregnancy from 139 women and the brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels observed. It was found that highest levels of the biomarker were found in black women compared with white women. Levels of the biomarker correlated with self-reported depression and with the babies having lower than average birth weights.
The research suggests that, in some cases, it may be beneficial to boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor levels in pregnant women. However, to do so could result in other side-effects.
The new research has been published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, with the study titled “Serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) across pregnancy and postpartum: Associations with race, depressive symptoms, and low birth weight.” The study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.
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