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Depression in Children May Affect Gray Matter Development

Major depression may influence the course of gray matter development in children from preschool age through early adolescence, according to research in JAMA Psychiatry.

In a longitudinal study, Joan L. Luby, MD, and her colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis identified “marked bilateral decreases in thickness of cortical gray matter and in volume of the right hemisphere (with marginal significance on the left hemisphere)” in children with depression.

The researchers tracked 193 children, including 90 with major depressive disorder, for 11 years starting in 2003. The children, ages 3 to 6 at baseline, underwent IQ testing, two psychiatric interviews (with parent report) and at least one of three waves of neuroimaging; 116 children completed all three. Structural MRI measured the volume, thickness and surface area of cortical gray matter in each child.

Release Date: 
Tuesday, December 22, 2015