Mom's Childhood Trauma May Affect Daughter, Too

Mom's Childhood Trauma May Affect Daughter, Too

Mental illness caused by traumatic experiences in early childhood may be passed from mothers to their daughters, new research suggests.

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

The study involved adults whose parents had been evacuated from Finland during World War II, when they were children.

Many of the approximately 49,000 children evacuated from Finland from 1941 to 1945 were preschoolers. They were placed with foster families in Sweden. Besides being separated from their families, the children faced stresses such as adapting to their foster family and learning a new language.

Then, when they returned to Finland, they had to readjust to Finnish society.

The researchers found that the daughters of women who had been evacuated had the same increased risk for hospitalization for mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder as their mothers.

The daughters of female evacuees were four times more likely to have been hospitalized with a mood disorder than were the daughters of women who had stayed with their families in Finland during the war.

The risk for hospitalization for mood disorders was not higher than normal among sons or daughters of men who had been evacuated as children.

The study did not pinpoint why daughters of female evacuees had the same high risk for mental illness as their mothers. However, the researchers noted that it could be related to how the mothers' traumatic childhood experience affected their parenting or to changes in the mothers' gene function.

"Many studies have shown that traumatic exposures during pregnancy can have negative effects on offspring," said study author Stephen Gilman. He's with the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Division of Intramural Population Health Research.

"Here, we found evidence that a mother's childhood traumatic exposure -- in this case separation from family members during war -- may have long-lasting health consequences for her daughters," Gilman explained in an institute news release.

Study co-author Torsten Santavirta, from Uppsala University in Sweden, said the evacuation from Finland "was intended to protect children from the many harms associated with the country's wars with the Soviet Union.

"Our observation of long-term psychiatric risk that reached into the next generation is concerning and underscores the need to weigh benefits as well as potential risks when designing policies for child protection," Santavirta added.

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

The researchers concluded that further research is needed to learn more about how being caught up in a war affects the mental health of parents and their children and to find new ways to help families affected by war.

The study was published in online Nov. 29 in JAMA Psychiatry.

More information

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has more on mood disorders.


Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Related Content

A Young Mothers Addiction Led To Death & Her Obituary Struck An International Chord
A Young Mothers Addiction Led To Death & Her Obituary Struck An International Chord

Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir died on Sunday, October 7. While her death was unexpect...

Read more
Why Are Children In Class Being Wrongly Labelled As Having ADHD So Frequently?
Why Are Children In Class Being Wrongly Labelled As Having ADHD So Frequently?

Parents worried about their child falling behind academically because they are b...

Read more
The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think
The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think

Across the Western world today, if you are depressed or anxious and you go to yo...

Read more
Companies Are Opening Their Doors To Talent With Autism
Companies Are Opening Their Doors To Talent With Autism

Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Pauley thought he had it all figured out when ...

Read more
Bipolar 1 & Bipolar 2, What’s The Difference?
Bipolar 1 & Bipolar 2, What’s The Difference?

If you think bipolar disorder describes a mental health condition that can cause...

Read more
The Narcissism Test: Do We Have Too Much OR Too Little?
The Narcissism Test: Do We Have Too Much OR Too Little?

Narcissism is hot. Which should make narcissists very happy. But it's also widel...

Read more