Healthy Beginnings Lab Update 1

During my first four weeks in the Healthy Beginnings research lab, I partook in a lot of exploratory work in order to narrow the scope of my research and discover what aspect of the lab intrigued me the most. Initially, I was interested in looking at the association between maternal depression during pregnancy and negative birth outcomes. Specifically, I wanted to examine if clinical depression in pregnant incarcerated mothers as measured by the Edinburgh depression scale are at a higher risk of preterm delivery and low infant birth weight.I found many research studies on pregnant women in the general population who were severely depressed during early pregnancy and this was found to double their risk of giving birth to premature babies, for example. This really made me curious because women who are pregnant and incarcerated are a more vulnerable population and are more prone to come from a low socioeconomic background or have experienced traumatizing events in their past which increase their risk of depression during pregnancy. I found that a majority of the risk factors for depression are prevalent in the population of incarcerated mothers, most notably: a history of abuse, a history or the current consumption of alcohol or cigarette smoking, and general ambivalence about the pregnancy. Therefore, untreated maternal depression during pregnancy has been associated with poor pregnancy and birth outcomes most notably low birth weight and an increased risk of premature delivery. However, I soon realized that the research on this potential correlation was still not fully explained and thus, I would not have strong basis of background information and research to justify my project.



Therefore, I began to explore other research topics and wrote annotated bibliographies based on the research articles I read. While doing this, I also entered data into SPSS statistics from a project which examined parental incarceration and offspring impulsivity, and filed hundreds of data related to this research effort. I read about many criminal offenses of currently incarcerated male and female inmates and was especially interested in how adverse childhood experiences can significantly impact the familial generation of criminal offenders. I was also trained and certified to administer the National Adult Reading Test (NART), Tower of Hanoi, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) and interview participants for this same planning and behavior research project on the association between parental incarceration and impulsivity. And as I completed these tasks, I sought inspiration for a new focus on my research topic.