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Pregnancy link to teenage violence

Women who are aggressive and disruptive in adolescence are the most likely to suffer depression in pregnancy, a new study has suggested.

Among inner city mothers, this group are four times more likely to give birth to offspring who themselves become violent teenagers.

Researchers looked at 120 British youths from urban areas in the study, interviewing their mothers while they were pregnant, after they gave birth, and when their children were 4, 11, and 16.

They found that mothers who became depressed when pregnant were four times as likely to have children - both boys and girls - who were violent at 16.

The mothers' depression was predicted, in turn, by their own aggressive and disruptive behaviour as teenagers, the team found. The researchers were from Cardiff University, King's College London and the University of Bristol.

Psychology Professor Dale F Hay, who is based at Cardiff University, said: "Much attention has been given to the effects of postnatal depression on young infants, but depression during pregnancy may also affect the unborn child."

Department of Health