Intergenerational disadvantage: why maternal mental health matters

The first of Koi Tū’s evidence briefs, this paper analyses and synthesises new research linking a mother’s prenatal mental health to the child’s brain development, and shows how this ties into the problem of intergenerational disadvantage in New Zealand.

Children whose mothers experienced depression/anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to have impaired brain (‘executive’) function, with lifelong consequences. This suggests that there is a biological contribution to intergenerational disadvantage, in addition to environmental factors, and that interventions focusing on maternal mental wellbeing to promote children’s brain function could have significant impact.

Download the evidence brief here

See also: Media release