Amygdala-prefrontal structural connectivity mediates the relationship between prenatal depression and behaviour in preschool boys

Rebecca E. Hay MD, Jess E. Reynolds PhD, Melody N. Grohs MSc, Dmitrii Paniukov PhD, Gerald F. Giesbrecht PhD, Nicole Letourneau PhD, Deborah Dewey PhD and *Catherine Lebel PhD

Jul 18, 2019
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Date Received: 11th July 19

Prenatal depression is common, underrecognized, and undertreated, with negative consequences on child behaviour and brain development. However, relationships between maternal depression, and children’s brain and behaviour outcomes remain unclear. The goal of this study was to determine how children’s amygdala and limbic connectivity related to prenatal depressive symptoms, and to determine whether connectivity mediated relationships between prenatal depression and children’s behaviour. Fifty-four mothers completed the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS) during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and 3 months postpartum. Children’s behaviour was assessed using the Child Behaviour Checklist, and white matter connectivity measured via diffusion magnetic resonance imaging at age 4.1 +/- 0.8 years. Third trimester EDS scores were associated with white matter in the amygdala-frontal tract and the cingulum. Externalizing behaviour was sexually differentiated in the amygdala-frontal pathway. Altered amygdala connectivity mediated the relationship between third trimester maternal depressive symptoms and child externalizing behaviour in males. These data present evidence of decreased amygdala connectivity resulting in altered behaviour in preschoolers and may predispose children affective disorders.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature