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Blue Mood, Smaller Brood?

Moms who battle depression may have
infertility troubles.

When researchers linked use of antidepressant drugs to female infertility a few years back, their analysis may have stopped a rung too short. A recent study finds that women who've had depressive symptoms--regardless of whether they have taken medication--are more likely to report fertility troubles. "This suggests that drugs aren't really the culprit," says Brown University epidemiologist Kate Lapane, Ph.D.

What may be happening instead is that depression itself alters a woman's hormone production, throwing off her usual reproductive cycle. The Brown study, reported in Psychosomatic Medicine (Vol. 57, No. 6), found that infertility was nearly twice as common among women who'd experienced a period of hopelessness. But since many of the women didn't have full-fledged depression, notes Lapane, the true impact of depression on fertility could be even more severe than this study suggests.