The impact of postpartum depression on new mothers and their infants as well as potential treatments will be at the centre of an upcoming public webinar.
On Tuesday, May 18, John Krzeczkowski (BSc ’15), a sessional lecturer in Brock’s Department of Health Sciences and a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, will speak on “Maternal Postpartum Depression and Infant Brain Development — The impact of early treatment” as part of the Lifespan Development Research Institute’s community speaker series.
Held virtually from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., the free talk is open to everyone and will discuss Krzeczkowski’s latest research, including the world’s first study on the effect treating postpartum depression in mothers has on the brain development of their babies.
The event will examine how maternal postpartum depression poses a major challenge to the health of new mothers and their infants, and how early treatments have been shown to be effective.
Postpartum depression (PPD) affects one in five mothers and has profound negative effects on a child’s ability to regulate their feelings and behaviours, Krzeczkowski says. However, it is unknown if treating a mother’s PPD with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a widely used talking treatment, could reverse these problems.
“Our research suggests that treating maternal postpartum depression with cognitive behavioural therapy, a short, cost-effective treatment that is accepted and preferred by mothers, not only benefits maternal health, but also leads to healthy changes in their babies’ brain development,” Krzeczkowski says.
Hee found that after mothers completed CBT treatment, their babies’ brain activity normalized to the levels seen in healthy control babies (born to women without postpartum depression). This research highlights the tremendous potential that treating PPD with short, cost-effective treatments that are preferred by mothers has on the health of both the mother and her baby.
Krzeczkowski, a graduate of Brock’s Neuroscience program, has worked and volunteered with Niagara Region Public Health, Quest Community Health Centre and Distress Centre Niagara, to gain an understanding of the widespread effects of mental health disorders on individuals and families. These experiences ultimately provided inspiration for his research path, which aims to determine how to prevent mental health disorders before they happen.
Krzeczkowski’s work involves examining the impact of prenatal and early postnatal interventions on the brain development of babies and children, thereby improving the health of young families in Canada and beyond.
“Intervening early to prevent mental health disorders is more effective and much less expensive than corrective interventions applied later in life,” he says. “Our evidence represents an important step towards preventing mental health disorders in the children of mothers with PPD and highlights the critical importance of ensuring that mothers with PPD receive timely treatment.”
Held in partnership with the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, with support from Brock’s Office of Research Services, the “Maternal Postpartum Depression and Infant Brain Development — The impact of early treatment” webinar is free to attend but advance registration is required.
The event is part of the ongoing Lifespan Institute Speaker Series, which is designed to connect and engage the community with research that is going on at Brock University.