Epigenetic Basis for the Development of Depression in Children

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Abstract

The growing field of epigenetics and human behavior affords an unprecedented opportunity to discover molecular underpinnings of mental health disorders and pave the way for the development of preventive intervention programs. Maternal depression during pregnancy is a serious public health issue and leads to a 4-fold increase in the likelihood that the child will develop depression. We describe how mood disorders, particularly depression, may be shaped by early life stress, programming, and epigenetic processes and pathways showing how these processes could lead to depression in childhood. Implications of this approach to the study of mental health disorders for preventive interventions are discussed.

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