Review of infant EEG studies in the context of maternal depression and anxiety

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Review of infant EEG studies in the context of maternal depression and anxiety

The environmental factors during pregnancy and early childhood affect development of individual in various manners. This review considers maternal perinatal depression and anxiety and their influences on offspring determined with electroencephalography (EEG) that measures the electrical activity of brain, either by observing EEG asymmetry or more specific, time linked components called event-related potentials (ERPs). The aim of this review is to raise the significance of maternal mental wellbeing and its effects in infant brain function and development, and also observe the possibilities of EEG as a tool in this study field. This review contains summaries and conclusions of 7 articles. To pick the articles, the following search phrase was used in PubMed: “EEG AND (infants or newborns or children) AND (brain or neuroimaging) AND emotion” and it yielded 424 articles. 20 of them were EEG studies and considered influences of maternal depression and/or anxiety on offspring’s neural responses measured by EEG. From this sample I chose 8 on the grounds of the age of test subjects (neonates to 17-month-olds) and ultimately 7 articles were included. This is not a systematic review as all the studies are relatively different with each other but together they do provide evidence for the likely negative influences of maternal perinatal stress on offspring. Across all the studies they found differences between infants that were perinatally exposed to maternal depression or anxiety and infants that were not. These studies also prove that EEG is suitable and usable method to perceive these influences.

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