Final Research Summary

My summer research at the Healthy Beginnings Lab has been an enriching, engaging, and incredibly educational experience. During the 10 weeks that I spent at the lab, I constantly gained a new perspective on the difficult conditions of incarcerated pregnant mothers. While I started out in a different area of research, I was lead to a highly suitable research topic for myself, especially considering the fact that I have a profound interest in maternal health. The background research that I conducted on the negative outcomes of maternal depression in the general context of pregnant women, and later on incarcerated pregnant women truly opened my mind to the challenges and dangers that depression during pregnancy can result in.

[Read more…]

Final Healthy Beginnings Lab Update

   During the past 3 weeks of my individual research project in the Healthy Beginnings lab, I completed a lot of general research on the correlation between maternal depression and negative outcomes in a general context. I wrote multiple entries in my annotated bibliography to familiarize myself more with this field and specific topic of research. Soon thereafter, I began to enter data from a project funded by Anthem for the healthy beginnings project, in which I was inspired by two particular sections of the data: the first which asked pregnant incarcerated women questions about their nutritional health, and the second which showed the scale results of depression symptoms in these mothers. Thus, I immediately became intrigued to explore the correlation between poor nutrition and depression symptoms in pregnant incarcerated mothers, since the data was clearly available for me to examine. In my research efforts, I first began to look into how maternal depression during pregnancy can have physical manifestations. I learned that mothers who experience clinical symptoms of depression during pregnancy often have stomach pain, heart palpitations, short breath, and nausea. As I dug deeper into the existing research on this topic, I found an article which discussed how women who experience depression symptoms during pregnancy tend to have an increased risk of poor nutrition, often due to a lack of appetite. This solidified my desire to explore the correlation between poor nutrition and symptoms of depression in the context of pregnant incarcerated women.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

Abstract: Examining the Social and Emotional Development of Children of Incarcerated Mothers

Hello! My name is Amna Baloul and I am a freshman planning to major in Kinesiology and Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health. This summer, I will be a research assistant in Professor Dallaire’s Healthy Beginnings Lab.

[Read more…]