Did you know 10% of mothers in Australia will experience depression from the time the get pregnant to 12 months after the birth of their child? Women who are depressed during pregnancy are at a higher risk for preterm delivery, preeclampsia, birth difficulties, and postpartum depression.
Data from the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey showed that 1 in 5 (20%) mothers of children aged 24 months or less had been diagnosed with depression. More than half of these mothers reported being diagnosed with depression during the perinatal period. This is the period of time from the beginning of pregnancy until the child is 12 months of age.
Many cases of maternal depression are underreported or underdiagnosed so the actual rate of depression could actually be much higher.
Risk factors for maternal depression include our epigenetics (genetics and their response to environmental factors), as well as a number of social, psychological, and biological factors. One biological factor needing extra consideration is inadequate nutrition.
Interventions aimed at the well-being parents with depression should consider targeting the nutritional environment .
Micronutrients, including certain B vitamins, folate or folinic acid, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), play a role in the synthesis and absorption of our brain chemicals that affect our moods including serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. Experimental studies suggest that supplementation with specific micronutrients may alleviate depressive symptoms and improve birth outcomes in patients with perinatal depression .
If you or someone you know is trying to fall pregnant or currently pregnant and is wanting to improve birthing outcomes as well as ensuring optimum health for yourself and your baby, the Doctors at Little Sprouts will be able to assist in managing your health.
 Leung, B. M., & Kaplan, B. J. (2009). Perinatal depression: prevalence, risks, and the nutrition link—a review of the literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(9), 1566-1575.
 Adhikari, P., & Cooper-Stanbury, M. (2012). Perinatal depression: Data from the 2010 Australian national infant feeding survey. AIHW.
 Barker, E. D., Kirkham, N., Ng, J., & Jensen, S. K. (2013). Prenatal maternal depression symptoms and nutrition, and child cognitive function. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 203(6), 417-421.
For years now, parents have been encouraged to minimised screen time for our children. In fact, there are many guidelines produced by governments, medical and paediatric associations, all of which advocate reducing screen time (here are the current guidelines for Australia https://austparents.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/screentime.pdf).
In 2017, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne conducted a poll on screen usage in Australian homes. It found some potentially unsurprising results including:
More significantly, a 2019 study has found that increased screen time (above recommendations) is associated with lower brain white matter tracts that support language and literacy skills in pre-kindergarten children. These skills include imagery and executive function – the processes involving mental control and self-regulation. These children also have lower scores on language and literacy measures. This suggests that higher exposure to screens for younger children will dramatically impact on their performance when they are in school. (3)
If you would like some other tips about brain function for you or your child make sure to book an appointment with us.
Many publications and books have been published in popular media stating that there is a condition called adrenal fatigue. This condition is theorised to be caused by chronic exposure to stressful situations. Burnout syndrome or simply “burnout”, refers to a decrease in the cognitive functions, emotional exhaustion, and physical fatigue that is triggered by stressful situations and associated with excessive working.
Other symptoms of these conditions include feeling exhausted, irritable and unhappy. It is suggested in the lay press that the adrenal glands in these people function below the normal threshold, with the result that individuals feel tired and stressed. The internet is inundated with claims from people that they suffer from adrenal fatigue (1).
Adrenal fatigue, is a condition that some doctors dismiss because current research has not been able to exactly pinpoint and identify the chemicals that are imbalanced in this disorder.
These symptoms can be caused by a lot of other health conditions and it is very important that these things are screened for and eliminated. Some of these are sleep obstructive apnea syndrome, mental illnesses, hormonal deficiencies; liver and kidney dysfunctions, heart conditions, autoimmune diseases, among others (2). We definitely need to rule these things out. It is also interesting to note that in studies; fatigue is often associated with Chronic Low Back Pain (2).
James Wilson a PhD Doctor has a very interesting view. He states that the brain is constantly calculating how much stress hormone (cortisol) is releases so that our bodies perform appropriately. This calculation happens every 3-6 seconds. AMAZING! The system works with wonderful efficiency as long as the stresses are not too lasting, numerous or severe. But in current modern industrial society, this is often not the case. Stresses are often prolonged, abundant, multiple and intense. In addition, the nutrients used in greatly increased quantities during such high stress states are not replenished by the normal modern diet. Even in ‘healthy’ foods, nutrient quality has been diminished by the use of chemical fertilizers, which deplete the ground of the minerals and trace minerals necessary for plants to make and store the vitamin and phytonutrient rich food which existed previously (3). Thus, people today experiencing constant and multiple stressors have fewer nutrients to replenish challenged adrenals. He believes the number of people that have this condition is as high as 67% of the population!
Dr Wilson states that as incapacitating and severe as adrenal fatigue can be and as bad as it can make people feel, its saving grace is that the right kind of therapy is nearly always successful. Fortunately, most aspects of this therapy are already used by many conscientious practitioners. At Little Sprouts we find it very helpful to manage all of the underlying dysfunctions present, and this is how we help you manage adrenal fatigue symptoms. These include lifestyle modification, stress management techniques, adjustments to diet, and nutritional supplementation and of course helping you manage your pain.