Does mom's depression affect baby's language?
October 8th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Does mom's depression affect baby's language?

Babies are born ready to learn any language in the world, and they have linguistic super-powers that many adults don't.

For instance at 6 months old, they can distinguish between sounds in different languages that non-bilinguals hear as the same, such as an English "d" and a Hindi "d." They can also tell if someone is English or French without sound based on the mouth shapes of the speaker and rhythms. Only bilinguals retain these abilities throughout life.

Really cool, right? But around 10 months old, babies typically stop being able to make these distinctions. As they get better at perceiving a native language, they are less sensitive to non-native sights and sounds, says Janet Werker, psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Researchers are interested in probing this "critical period" of language development. They want to know what factors affect the window of time after which a baby loses sensitivity to a non-native language.

Werker's new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences explores babies' language development in relation to depression and a class of antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This is not a study designed to help researchers recommend for or against antidepressant medications, she says, but rather to explore language development milestones.

Given that as many as 20% of women have a mood disorder during pregnancy, and up to 13% of them take an antidepressant while carrying a child, assessing the impact of the condition and the treatment is important.

There were three groups of participants: 32 babies whose mothers who took antidepressants during pregnancy, 21 babies whose mothers had depression during pregnancy but did not take medication for it, and 32 babies whose mothers did not have depression.

The babies had to perform discrimination tasks involving sounds ("d" in English vs. Hindi) and visual speech (watching people speak different languages without sound).

Researchers found that depression and antidepressants did seem to make a difference in terms of when the babies showed sensitivity to different languages.

The babies in the control group, whose mothers did not have depression, performed as expected: They tended to succeed in language discrimination tasks at 6 months old and failed at 10 months old.

But the infants whose mothers had depression (but were not taking antidepressants) failed at 6 months and succeeded at 10 months. That means their critical period for language sensitivity was delayed.

Interestingly, the infants whose mothers were taking antidepressants failed both times. It appears that they were more "advanced" than both groups, in the sense that the language sensitivity window had already passed.

What's going on here? Researchers aren't sure, and they don't know if it's good or bad. One explanation for delay in the depressed-but-not-medicated group is that those kids weren't being exposed to as much engaging speech because their mothers were depressed.

Alternatively, the brain chemicals from the mother associated with depression could have something to do with it. And the antidepressants could be impacting the child's brain development in the group whose mothers took these medications.

Are there long-lasting consequences of delays, or advancements, in this critical period of language sensitivity? No one knows. More research needs to be done in order to determine the implications of the findings of this study.

soundoff (1,264 Responses)
  1. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    Very good post. I certainly love this site. Thanks!


    June 17, 2021 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Repairs Nearby


    June 17, 2021 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. chiropractic near me


    June 17, 2021 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thanks for supplying this information.


    June 17, 2021 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me

    I must thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this blog. I'm hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own blog now 😉


    June 17, 2021 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    After checking out a few of the blog articles on your web page, I really appreciate your way of writing a blog. I saved as a favorite it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my website as well and tell me what you think.


    June 17, 2021 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. pcr covid test near me


    June 17, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. gun dealers near me


    June 17, 2021 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. marshalls near me


    June 17, 2021 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. realtors near me


    June 17, 2021 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. gyms near me


    June 17, 2021 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. discount tire near me


    June 17, 2021 at 19:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. national parks near me


    June 17, 2021 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. laptop repair near me

    I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!


    June 17, 2021 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. escorts near me

    I was able to find good advice from your blog articles.


    June 17, 2021 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. storage units near me


    June 17, 2021 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rheumatologist near me

    I was extremely pleased to discover this website. I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you saved to fav to look at new things on your website.


    June 17, 2021 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. shopping near me

    Very good information. Lucky me I found your website by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!


    June 18, 2021 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. dog groomers near me


    June 18, 2021 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. hyundai dealership near me


    June 18, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. barbershop near me

    Good info. Lucky me I came across your site by accident (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!


    June 18, 2021 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. michaels near me


    June 18, 2021 at 03:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. great clips near me

    After I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks!


    June 18, 2021 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. driving schools near me


    June 18, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. corona testing near me

    The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't disappoint me as much as this one. After all, Yes, it was my choice to read, but I genuinely believed you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.


    June 18, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 3d printing

    364644 243639Id always want to be update on new content material on this web site , saved to fav! . 405238

    June 18, 2021 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. dog training near me

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be helpful to read through articles from other writers and use a little something from their sites.


    June 18, 2021 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. chili's near me

    Your style is really unique compared to other people I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this blog.


    June 18, 2021 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. soup near me

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Cheers!


    June 18, 2021 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. roofers near me


    June 18, 2021 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. valvoline near me


    June 18, 2021 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 18, 2021 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repair Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe this website needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the advice!


    June 18, 2021 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Repair Near Me Now

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!


    June 18, 2021 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. kitchen & bath remodeling near me

    I really like it when individuals come together and share views. Great site, stick with it!


    June 18, 2021 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. RV Repair Santa Ana

    Great site you have here.. Itís hard to find high quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    June 18, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is useful. Thank you for sharing!


    June 18, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Sprinter Repair Orange County


    June 18, 2021 at 17:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Camper Repair Near Me

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It's the little changes which will make the most important changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    June 18, 2021 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Repair


    June 18, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. rooms for rent near me


    June 18, 2021 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Nearby RV Repair

    Hi, I do believe this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I may return yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    June 18, 2021 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 18, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Repair Orange County California


    June 18, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair Near Me Now


    June 18, 2021 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Repair Nearby

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this post and the rest of the website is also very good.


    June 18, 2021 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. restaurants near me now


    June 19, 2021 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Nearest RV Repair

    I blog quite often and I truly appreciate your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your blog and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    June 19, 2021 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Nearby RV Repairs

    Good post! We will be linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the great writing.


    June 19, 2021 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. equipment rental near me

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be useful to read through articles from other writers and practice a little something from their websites.


    June 19, 2021 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Leave a Reply to Egr Def Repair Mercedes Sprinter


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.