Maternal depression around childbirth has potentially large and long-lasting effects on child development. While psychological interventions are effective at reducing severity of perinatal depression, the pathways by which these interventions may impact child development are not well understood. In this study, we focus on measuring stress pathways, particularly chronic activation
of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is hypothesized to be involved in both depression and infant brain development Our results indicate that treating even mild cases of depression can result in objective and measurable physiological changes, which could translate into changes in decision-making. Additionally, our results suggest that DHEA may
be a robust marker of cognitive development at these younger ages. Lastly, using exceptionally rich data on parenting inputs throughout infancy, we explore whether impacts on infant DHEA levels are mediated by early parental investment.
Dr Victoria Baranov is applied microeconomist, focusing on issues surrounding poverty in both developing and developed countries. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2013 and joined the University of Melbourne where she is now a senior lecturer in the economics department. She is also a Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence Life Course Centre, and an
affiliate of the Centre for Market Design. Dr Baranov’s research explores the impacts of health, especially psychological health, on economic decision making. She employs quasi-experimental and experimental methodologies and has worked in a diverse set of countries including Malawi, Pakistan, and Australia.