A team of researchers from Western University and Brescia University College has concluded that depression is the largest driver of substance abuse during pregnancy. It’s common knowledge that tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, and any other drug will have negative effects on an unborn baby. Despite this, women still continue to use them while they’re pregnant.
Women have to watch their diet and levels of exercise while they’re pregnant, so it’s without a doubt that any harmful substances they take will affect the child. Any of these can cause serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and they could cause some significant damage to the fetus’ development. Despite knowing all of this, some women continue to consume harmful things for their babies, and researchers wanted to know why.
This research was the first of its kind to be published because the sample size is large enough to have conclusive evidence. In an analysis of 25,000 pregnant women in Southwestern Ontario, the team discovered that depression was the main driver of their substance abuse. They gathered data from heath and geographical studies at the Lawson Health Research Institute, and they found that pregnant women who were depressed were 2.6 times more likely to use cannabis and twice as likely to smoke cigarettes or use alcohol. The researchers did not know when the mothers began using the substances, but the only data that mattered for the study is the continuous use during pregnancy.
This study highlights the importance of mental health during pregnancy. We’re so focused on a mom’s physical health that we may be neglecting her mental well-being, and this affects the baby just as much as the physical aspects. Especially for those who have been clinically diagnosed with a mental illness, prescription of psychotherapy and safe medication is something that cannot be overlooked during pregnancy.
The study is also particularly important in Canada because recreational cannabis has been legalized. A depressed or stressed mom has more substances to reach for in the country, so studies like these prove that more needs to be done for mental health programs. A happy mom means a happy baby, so there should be more mental health programs for expecting mothers.