Ricardo Tavares Pinheiro from the Universidade Católica de Pelotas in Brazil will identify factors that are associated with gestational depression, and determine whether they influence their response to treatment and ultimately the healthy development of the child. Gestational and postpartum anxiety and depression affect 15-25% of mothers and can alter the emotional, social and cognitive development of the child. They are likely caused by a complex combination of genetic, hormonal, psychological and social/environmental factors. Only a handful of risk factors, including the levels of proinflammatory molecules, have been identified. The study will involve around 1250 pregnant women who will be evaluated by psychologists to ascertain their mental state. Blood and buccal cell samples will be collected to analyze the presence of candidate risk markers (specific proteins and microRNAs) and genetic polymorphisms (specific DNA sequences) to identify those associated with depression. They will also determine the relationship between these psychological and physiological factors and the subsequent motor and neurocognitive development of the born children. Clinical studies will also evaluate the efficacy of several modified therapeutic approaches centered on cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves guiding the patient to modify any distorted thinking and can be effective in depressed mothers.
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