UZH researches depression during pregnancy

Zurich – Researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH) are investigating the biological causes and effects of depression during pregnancy. The aim is to find a form of treatment that improves the well-being of expectant mothers without harming the fetus.

Researchers from the University of Zurich (UZH) are taking part in the European Happy Mums project, which is being led by the University of Milan. According to a press release, the UZH research groups of phamacologist Urs Meyer and pharmacologist Juliet Richetto as well as the group of neuro-epigeneticist Isabel Mansuy are taking part. A total of 17 universities and organizations are participating in the Horizon Europe project.

The aim of the comprehensive study is not only to be able to distinguish between manifest depression and mood swings during pregnancy. The aim is also to find treatment methods that improve the well-being of depressed expectant mothers without harming the expectant life. So far, there is too little knowledge about how substances such as antidepressants affect the fetus. The Happy Mums project aims to explore the biological and microbiological processes that take place during pregnancy, as well as the psychological processes that occur during this time.

"In order to unravel these complex relationships, we are combining a large amount of data from clinical and preclinical research," Juliet Richetto, pharmacologist at UZH, is quoted as saying in the press release.

In order to obtain a large amount of data, Happy Mums follows thousands of mothers and children during pregnancy and after birth. Numerous paraclinical values such as blood values and hormone levels are collected as well as genetic data. Imaging procedures complete the diagnostic spectrum.

The international project runs until 2026. The researchers hope that the results of the study will lead to lasting improvements in the mental health of mothers and children. ce/eb

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