The effects of maternal and foetal stress during pregnancy on adult mental health

The causes of both common mental illnesses like anxiety and depression and more severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are still unclear. We know that these illnesses are most likely a complex mix of environmental factors working in conjunction with underlying genetic vulnerability. The genetic input to these disorders appears to be highly complex and involves multiple genes. The hope of early intervention to prevent these disorders seems likely to lie in the possibility of preventing adverse events in the environment from affecting brain development in our young people which leaves them more susceptible to mental illness in young adulthood.
In this project we look at factors during pregnancy, early infancy and in childhood which may increase the likelihood of illnesses like depression and schizophrenia in adulthood through effects on early neurodevelopment. In this way we hope to identify ways of better structuring our environment so that we protect and promote mental health and wellbeing from the very beginning of a child's life.

Award Date
23 October 2015
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Dr Mary Clarke
Host Institution
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Health Research Awards