Climate change poses greater risk of mental health challenges for children born to depressed mothers

Public Release: 6-Feb-2019

The Graduate Center, CUNY

New York, February 6, 2019 – Climate change poses an exponentially greater risk for mental health problems in children born to mothers with prenatal depression who also experience natural disaster-related stress. That is the message of a new study of infants born to New York City mothers shortly after Superstorm Sandy.

The study, appearing in today’s issue of Infant Mental Health, builds on previous findings that disaster-related prenatal stress can have negative effects on an infant’s temperament. In their new work, researchers also found that in the case of mothers who were pregnant during Superstorm Sandy and who were predisposed to depression, the effects on their babies were many times worse.

“Prenatal depression increases the risk for infants to have a difficult temperament, but when we factored in the stress of experiencing an environmental catastrophe, one plus one was not two: It was ten,” said the study’s lead author Yoko Nomura, a psychology professor with The Graduate Center of The City University of New York and Queens College. Nomura published her study while a faculty fellow at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center. “Our research found that, compared to other babies, infants born to women who were prenatally depressed and pregnant during Superstorm Sandy had higher rates of distress and lower rates of pleasure-seeking activities.”

The study considered 310 pairs of mothers and children, recruited from clinics that serve patients from around the boroughs of New York City. The researchers assessed the mothers’ depression symptoms, and mothers reported their infants’ temperament via a questionnaire six months after birth.

Infants of depressed mothers displayed greater distress and fear, less smiling and laughter, and lower soothability and cuddliness compared to infants of mothers with lower scores for depression. The infants of depressed mothers who were pregnant during Sandy displayed even worse temperament.

In a 2018 study by several of the same authors, researchers concluded that a mother’s stress impacts her child’s temperament during the early years of childhood, and they demonstrated that this was true for children born during or close to the time of Superstorm Sandy.

The researchers posited that epigenetic responses to external stressors may be the cause of the increased incidents and intensity of mental health challenges for these infants.

“The combination of environmental stressors and biology may compromise gene expression and cause an excessive amount of cortisol to be passed from the mother to the fetus, resulting in infants having poorer emotional regulation, shyness and fearfulness,” said co-author Jessica Buthmann, a Graduate Center doctoral student (Psychology) and Queens College adjunct professor.

Nomura’s team recommends monitoring and screening for at-risk mothers during future environmental events as the rising incidents of environmental disasters are likely to put more mothers and infants at risk for climate change-related mental health problems.

“The take-home point is that we should be mindful to look out for the high-risk mothers, because the long-term consequences for the mental health of their offspring could be eased with proper intervention,” Nomura said.


From EurekAlert!

About The Graduate Center of The City University of New York

The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master’s programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY — the nation’s largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center’s extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.

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February 7, 2019 12:10 pm

Amazing how the past 20,000 years
of 100% good news climate change,
starting with Chicago and Detroit
under thick glaciers, has been
so depressing.

I suppose leftists are depressed
because the bad news they have
been predicting about the climate,
since the 1960’s, never shows up !

Just being a leftist,
and fearing the climate,
sounds very depressing !

My climate science blog:

Reply to  Richard Greene
February 7, 2019 1:45 pm

You are correct, how did any of our ancestors make it through the Stone Age??? Maybe if it weren’t for the Flintstones, we would of all been toast by now? 😁

Bryan A
Reply to  Spuds
February 7, 2019 2:22 pm

If the Democrooks are correct we are all about to be

Tim Crome
Reply to  Spuds
February 8, 2019 2:06 am

They were depressed but just didn’t realise it!

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Tim Crome
February 8, 2019 9:24 am

“Climate change poses a… risk for mental health problems in children born to mothers… who experience natural disaster-related stress.”

Or when it comes to crazy, apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Reply to  Richard Greene
February 8, 2019 3:53 am

There is overwhelming evidence that global warming alarmism is false.

Full-Earth-scale analyses show that the upper-bound of climate sensitivity to CO2 is about 1C/(2xCO2), which is far too low for runaway global warming (Christy and McNider 2017, Lewis and Curry 2018). Climate computer models deliberately assume climate sensitivities several times greater than 1C/(2xCO2) to create false alarm.

The severity of storms has been declining in recent decades, so the alleged “CO2-driven climate-change/wilder-weather” narrative is also false.

The Climategate emails prove the deliberately fraudulent conduct of the cabal of activists who have promoted global warming false-alarmism.

Note that every major scary prediction by the global warming activists has failed to materialize – their predictive track record is perfectly negative – nobody should believe them.

In conclusion, increased atmospheric CO2 contributes to greater plant and crop yields and some possible mild warming, both net-beneficial to humanity and the environment.

Most people do not have the scientific skills to reach these conclusions, and have been bombarded with false global warming propaganda, for which there is no credible evidence.

Trillions of dollars of scarce global resources have been squandered on “global warming/climate change” false-alarmism. Vital electric grids have been destabilized by intermittent , costly green energy schemes that are not green and produce little useful (dispatchable) energy, and do not even reduce CO2 emissions – due to the need for ~100% conventional spinning reserve, for grid back-up when the wind does not blow and the Sun does not shine. Electricity costs have increased greatly where politicians promoted grid-connected green energy schemes, and Excess Winter Deaths have increased due to high costs and energy poverty.

Millions of people have believed these global warming falsehoods and truly fear for their future. This cruel falsehood has created needless stress among these people and their children, all to promote a politically-driven falsehood for which there is no credible evidence.

It is long overdue for this “global-warming/wilder-weather” false narrative to cease – it is the cause of needless extreme stress experienced by millions of people.

February 7, 2019 12:11 pm

Is there anything CAGW can’t do?

Bryan A
Reply to  SMC
February 7, 2019 12:41 pm

Climate Change poses greater risk of Psychological damage to Democrats and Socialists
Stephan Lewandosky
need more be said??

Walt D.
Reply to  Bryan A
February 7, 2019 1:41 pm

I think you are too late. You can’t fix stupid.

February 7, 2019 12:11 pm

“Prenatal depression increases the risk for infants to have a difficult temperament, but when we factored in the stress of experiencing an environmental catastrophe, one plus one was not two: It was ten,” said the study’s lead author Yoko Nomura, a psychology professor with The Graduate Center of The City University of New York and Queens College.

I don’t trust the conclusions of college professors who can’t add.

Reply to  Gary
February 7, 2019 12:18 pm

Nor anyone who professes to being able to measure “feelings” or temperament quantitatively or rationally.

Reply to  Rocketscientist
February 7, 2019 12:27 pm

“belief” in Global Warming having ONLY negative effects on humanity … is quite insane. It is a malignant form of mental illness, that spreads throughout the entire mind.

Walt D.
Reply to  kenji
February 7, 2019 1:43 pm

It needs its own diagnosis in DSM.
BTW Trump Derangement Syndrome qualifies you for disability in California.

Reply to  Walt D.
February 7, 2019 2:31 pm

Hopping the CA border illegally not only qualifies you for disability … but the medical diagnosis of TDS is paid-for by the Googaires too.

Al miller
Reply to  Walt D.
February 7, 2019 6:43 pm

Otherwise known as “PTDS”. It’s important to state the “president ” in there just to remind liberals he won a fair election!

Reply to  kenji
February 7, 2019 3:57 pm

Ken, they asked women with mental issues…to evaluate the metal issues of their babies….

Reply to  Gary
February 7, 2019 12:38 pm

1 + 1 = 10

There are 10 kinds of people, those who understand binary, and those who do not.

Reply to  commieBob
February 7, 2019 1:05 pm

1 & 1 = 11 (concatenation, but I haven’t figured out anything clever to say about that result yet)

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
February 7, 2019 1:11 pm

1 && 1 = 1

Reply to  MarkW
February 7, 2019 1:46 pm

We are the Eggmen!!!

Reply to  MarkW
February 7, 2019 2:36 pm

We are the Walrus … THEY are the eggman
Goo goo g’ joob

Sitting in an English
Garden waiting for the sun
If the sun don’t come (Global cooling in the 70’s)
You get a tan from standing in the English rain

I am the eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob g’ goo goo g’ joob

Expert texpert (climate scientists) choking smokers
Don’t you think the joker laughs at you?
See how they smile
Like pigs in a sty, see how they snied
I’m crying

Semolina pilchards
Climbing up the Eiffel Tower
Element’ry penguin singing Hare Krishna
Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe

I am the eggman (Ooh)
They are the eggmen (Ooh)
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob
Goo goo g’ joob
G’ goo goo g’ joob
Goo goo g’ joob, goo goo g’ goo g’ goo goo g’ joob joob
Joob joob…

Reply to  MarkW
February 8, 2019 2:53 pm

Not usually, but 1 && 1 == 1

1 && 1 is not a valid lvalue

February 7, 2019 12:12 pm

Okay just scratch out climate change and insert cannabis to get the mental public health issue right. And it’s coming no matter what the climate crusaders do.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
February 7, 2019 1:50 pm

Soma! Soma! Soma!…. Aldous Huxley was right…even though he did a lot of mescaline. Not so Brave New World is coming…Humans will not go extinct due to some predator or cataclysm but by a disease known as “socialism”! 😂

February 7, 2019 12:13 pm

In related news, Chicken Little has been diagnosed with severe mental stress and psychological trauma from his belief that the sky is falling. Not only has his health suffered, but his distress has caused related illnesses in most of his friends and relations.

February 7, 2019 12:13 pm

who were predisposed to depression
gee, maybe THATS the issue and nothing to do with climate. stress from rebuilding in those who were predisposed to depression LEADS to depression and then safety of the child.

Reply to  dmacleo
February 7, 2019 12:27 pm

Couldn’t possibly be irrational and unfounded alarmist propaganda shrieking fear into the fragile minds and temperaments that cause the anxiety. (facepalm)

James Schrumpf
Reply to  Rocketscientist
February 7, 2019 1:07 pm

Isn’t just living in NYC depressing enough?

Reply to  James Schrumpf
February 7, 2019 1:56 pm

Well, that IS the common denominator..

“patients from around the boroughs of New York City.:

February 7, 2019 12:13 pm

Now they should do a study on the effects of scaring pregnant women with false climate change claims. Then those making such claims should face a class action lawsuit brought by those women.

Coach Springer
February 7, 2019 12:14 pm

Speaking of mental health, have the researchers been tested for climatic hypochondria?

Reply to  Coach Springer
February 7, 2019 12:34 pm

Probably Munchausen

Reply to  otsar
February 7, 2019 1:22 pm

Wouldn’t that be Mannchausen?

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  jtom
February 7, 2019 1:38 pm

Very good, jtom.

However, I think the correct clinical term is actually “Mannchausen by Proxy.

Reply to  Pillage Idiot
February 8, 2019 2:48 pm

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness and a form of child abuse. The caretaker of a child, most often a mother, either makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.
Where to even start ??

Duke Henry
February 7, 2019 12:16 pm

I’m sorry, but since this headline showed up on my phone I just can’t stop laughing…

Dale S
February 7, 2019 12:16 pm

A climate change claim that’s entirely missing the climate change. There’s no evidence “climate change” has made natural disasters more common, so even if natural-disaster related stress were a bad thing for infants in the womb, there’s no climate change hook. Further, if stress and depression to the mother is bad thing for the baby (seems plausible), I would think increasing that stress with climate alarmism or additional taxation would also be a bad thing.

But what about the actual science? I am unsurprised to read that infants of *depressed mothers* are rated lower by those same depressed mothers than the infants of non-depressed mothers. I think it’s just possible that the difference between infants is not as great as those mothers perceived, and just possible that any differences are likely to arise from the mother’s depression than from pre-natal stress. The alleged connection with Sandy I’d like to see more details before assessing.

February 7, 2019 12:32 pm

This is a classic case of a false premise in search of a study. Of course the entire study breaks down when Superstorm Sandy is assumed to be the consequence of climate change, rather than just, well, a bad storm.
Of course a study that merely found that depressed mothers can depress their infants and that can be made worse when the mothers are further depressed by outside events (a natural disaster is only one possibility) is so ho-hum obvious that the researches new they’d have to throw the phrase “climate change” in there to get any publicity.

Reply to  Michael
February 7, 2019 4:42 pm

Actually, the study refers to “climate change” just twice, in the same context: “Given the recent increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters as a result of climate change.” I thought that the frequency and intensity of natural disasters decreases in reality – but it sure increases in models.

February 7, 2019 12:38 pm

Children learn to mimic their parents as a method of socialization. If the mother, presumably the primary caregiver, acts anxiously so will the infant.
As a youth I taught swimming lessons to children. I had the hardest time teaching children whose parents were deathly afraid of the water and could not swim themselves. The children had learned to have an irrational fear of water. One mother was an utter mess and had to be asked not to attend the lessons due to interference.

Scared and ignorant parents are a huge detriment to their children’s well being.

Tom Halla
February 7, 2019 12:39 pm

To be plonkingly obvious, this study has no way to separate out environmental stress from the noted predisposition to depression in some of the mothers. It looks like a cynical attempt to get funding by making a tie-in to climate change.

Bryan A
February 7, 2019 12:44 pm

If the Depressed Mothers filled out the questionaire, wouldn’t the results be jaded by their depressed perceptions?

Reply to  Bryan A
February 7, 2019 12:51 pm

Well, to be fair to the infants, they couldn’t read yet, so the mothers had to read the questionnaire to them and then interpret the infants responses to the questions.

Bryan A
Reply to  Rocketscientist
February 7, 2019 2:25 pm

Well it obviously took a RocketScientist to think of that…Well played 😉

February 7, 2019 12:44 pm

I will believe that NATURAL disasters cause stress and that prenatal stress can have negative effects on an infant’s temperament.

So it is good that NATURAL disasters are becoming less common, possibly because of the increased CO2 in the air.

Unfortunately the mothers will become more stressed if they are trapped in the NATURAL disaster because their electric car cannot be charged when the NATURAL disaster destroys the wind turbines and solar cells. Clearly we need to ensure that all pregnant women have access to a fossil fuel powered vehicle.

February 7, 2019 12:50 pm

Ah the wonder of data dredging: slice your data into finer and finer categories and sooner or later you’ll find something correlated with something else. Which leads to another publication on your curriculum vitae, tenure, promotion to associate professor, etc.

February 7, 2019 12:51 pm

All designed to distract us away from what’s really going on ….

7 effects have each been repeatedly reported following Wi-Fi & other EMF exposures.

Established Wi-Fi effects, include apoptosis, oxidat. stress &:

testis/sperm dysfunct; Neuropsych; DNA impact; hormone change; Ca2+ rise.

Wi-Fi is thought to act via voltage-gated calcium channel activation.

One claim of no Wi-Fi effects was found to be deeply flawed.

Reply to  jmorpuss
February 7, 2019 2:02 pm

… and the literal HUNDREDS of Signalman rated Sailors who spent their entire careers exposed to high powered 400Mhz and 800Mhz near fields from long range search radars but not showing cancer clusters or other bizarre medical issues?

Reply to  tweak
February 7, 2019 9:17 pm

Israeli Soldiers Working With Radar Face Higher Risk of Cancer, Israeli Study Suggests
Study found risk of developing cancer was higher for soldiers who were exposed to radio frequency radiation.
Soldiers working as radar operators who are exposed to radio frequency radiation are at increased risk for contracting cancer, mainly the various cancers of the immune system. The risk of contracting more than one type of cancer is also higher than average, according to an Israeli study that was published in the Environmental Research journal.

Donna K. Becker
February 7, 2019 12:52 pm

Didn’t any of these researchers stop to realize that mothers-to-be, as well as mothers, who have SAD (seasonal affective disorder, which occurs during the winter months), probably pass along a genetic tendency toward that same disorder?

Reply to  Donna K. Becker
February 7, 2019 1:05 pm

Psychologists don’t want to be bothered with hard sciences like biology.

February 7, 2019 1:05 pm

“lower soothability and cuddliness” right. Studies like this have that exact effect on rationally minded people.

And why is there a reproduciblity crises in social science research. Because much of it is junk like this and always has been.

George Daddis
February 7, 2019 1:11 pm

Back when Saturday Night Live was funny, the late Gilda Radner played a TV commentator named “Emily Litella”. The recurring “sthick” was that she’d start off her guest “opinion piece” with a false or mistaken premise and then go on a long emotional rant on the subject. (“What’s all this fuss lately about Eagle Rights…”) Near the end, one of the newscasters would quietly correct her mistake (It’s “Equal Rights”, Emily); She would look momentarily confused and embarrassed, and then issue her famous line: “Never mind!”

Virtually all of these supposed “scientific” studies remind me of “Emily”.
They are all based on the fallacious assumption that “Global Warming” has caused more extreme weather events, and that extreme weather will only accelerate to a catastrophic level in the future.

They then devote their paper to the description of the horrible things that will occur as a result. It would take only an hour or two to read the works of Drs Christie, Spencer, Lomborg et al to understand extreme weather events, like Hurricane Sandy mentioned in this piece, are NOT a new phenomenon.

They have their fantasies; so I have one of my own. At an upcoming IPCC event they will be exposed to real data and and the IPCC will issue a large, collective “NEVER MIND!”

Reply to  George Daddis
February 7, 2019 2:47 pm

In 2006, Church & White published the most famous sea-level paper of all:

Church & White (2006), A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, L01602, <a href="https://doi:10.1029/2005GL024826.

A lot of the confusion about sea level rise results from misunderstanding the findings of that paper.

Church & White fit a quadratic to averaged and adjusted tide gauge data, and detected a small acceleration in rate of sea level rise for the 20th century as a whole. But it turns out that all of that acceleration occurred in the first quarter of the 20th century (and the late 19th century). After 1925, their data showed a small deceleration in rate of sea level rise, rather than acceleration. Here’s my graph showing the data and linear & quadratic regressions:

comment image
comment image

Since nearly all of the anthropogenic contribution to CO2 levels occurred after 1925, that means Church & White detected no acceleration in rate of sea level rise in response to anthropogenic CO2, a fact which was not mentioned in the paper.

In 2009, Church and White released a new data set, based on a different set of tide gauges. But they published no paper about it, and I wondered why not. So I applied their 2006 analysis method to the new data (minimum-variance unbiased estimator quadratic regression). It showed an even larger deceleration in sea-level rise after 1925:


However, I found that it not only showed deceleration in sea level rise after 1925, all of the acceleration in sea level rise since 1900 was also gone!

I shared my results with Drs. Church & White, and on June 18, 2010, Dr. Church replied, confirming my analysis: “For the 1901 to 2007 period, again we agree with your result and get a non-significant and small deceleration.”

You can see why they didn’t publish a paper about their 2009 results. If they’d published such a paper, the title would have had to have been something like this:

Church and White (2009), Oops, NEVER MIND! No 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise after all.

In 2011 they released a another dataset, and in this one the deceleration after 1925 was finally gone. It showed a statistically insignificant acceleration — and they DID publish a paper about it. Here’s my graph:

The selective publication of only papers and results which support the desired narrative is one of the ways in which bias infects climate science.

February 7, 2019 1:15 pm

“… researchers concluded that a mother’s stress impacts her child’s temperament during the early years of childhood…”

(Stella) Thomas and (Alexander)Chess identified (1956) nine dimensions or qualities that help indicate temperament, including: activity level, rhythmicity, distractibility, approach or withdrawal, adaptability, attention span and persistence, intensity of reaction, threshold of responsiveness, and quality of mood.

Clusters of infant’s temperament: easy, difficult, and slow to warm up are co-mingled with the “goodness of fit” between mother and child. When there is a misfit in the infant’s temperament with the mother’s, AND the mother fails/can not adapt to the child’s temperament, is when there is conflict between mother and infant and likely poor outcomes for both.

Explanation of outcomes stated in article may reflect a mother’s inability to adapt, for whatever reason. Mood and associated behaviors of prenatal depression extending to postpartum depression would be exacerbated by the mother having to adapt both to the stress of a storm and her child’s temperament clashes.

Depressed people don’t adapt to life’s changes very well.

February 7, 2019 1:22 pm

What’s Occasional’s excuse?……….

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Latitude
February 7, 2019 1:43 pm

If the cortex is only utilized occasionally, then severe atrophy frequently occurs.

February 7, 2019 1:23 pm

Alarmist pseudo-scientists seem more and more mentally challenged.

A frightening effect of no climate change.

Walt D.
Reply to  Petit_Barde
February 7, 2019 2:19 pm

Environ Mental Retardation?

February 7, 2019 1:29 pm

Political climate change, yes.

Andy Pattullo
February 7, 2019 1:32 pm

BULL EXCREMENT! The descriptions suggests depressed moms “reported” more fussy behaviour in their infants. The infant behaviour doesn’t appear to have been measured at all in any objective replicable way. If you asked depressed moms what they thought of the mood of the evening weather reporter on TV you might well get the same outcome. If you can’t figure out that this is because of the way depressed people interpret what goes on around them, and not due to an altered behaviour of those they encounter then you are just the sort of person qualified to do inflammatory, fear mongering climate research with no underlying scientific basis.

February 7, 2019 1:47 pm

So, what they are saying is that women who exhibit mental illness are far more likely to impress that mental illness on infants and young children. Perhaps the solution is to remove these infants and young children from the care of these women who exhibit mental illness, for those infant’s and children’s safety and for the safety of society as a whole. Placing them for adoption by non-mentally ill adults to raise is the only option left for society.

Dale S
Reply to  2hotel9
February 8, 2019 6:31 am

Depression can be treated, and if you look at the *scale* of the differences between the depressed mothers and non-depressed mothers, rather than just considering whether the difference is statistically significant, you’ll see that the difference *isn’t* dramatic. The children of depressed mothers, while slightly less well off (at least in the opinion of the *depressed mothers* themselves, which just might be biased low), are not remotely posing any sort of threat to society.

Having the state forcibly remove children from depressed mothers would produce *far* more negative consequences then letting depressed mothers raise their own children.

Reply to  Dale S
February 8, 2019 6:42 am

And yet these same “depressed” mothers and these “researchers” will happily support the state forcibly removing my rights for no reason at all. Shoe, meet foot. According to this study these women are harming their children so the state does need to step in for the protection of these children. These researchers are negligent for not contacting Child Protective Services to help these children, instead just using them as political pawns while spreading their lies about climate change.

February 7, 2019 1:58 pm

Fortunately, this is New York, where infants who will be, might be, might never be depressed can be killed right up to the moment of birth. There, problem solved!

February 7, 2019 2:00 pm

This Press release on children born to depressed mothers deserves the award for “Most stupid article of the Year” and Nomura and the team deserve the same recognition.

Reply to  Nicholas William Tesdorf
February 7, 2019 4:59 pm

The year is young, but its on the list.

February 7, 2019 2:05 pm

Good news! New York is working hard to eliminate depression in babies by eliminating babies, right up to the moment of birth.

There, problem solved.

February 7, 2019 2:26 pm
Reply to  Dave Burton
February 7, 2019 5:10 pm

I’ve commented this before and this grievous incident merely begs for its repetition:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

This story should be posted to the same site that published the article above. Sadly they probably would call this confirmation of their study and not see the truth. The poor souls at Jonestown ‘who drank the kool-aid’ never new they were deluded.

David Blackall
February 7, 2019 2:38 pm

Climate change, as generated by human induced global warming, doesn’t exist. This means the mental health risk as mentioned here comes from the alarmists themselves, creating their false emergency, causing misery in society. And let’s get real – the alarm sits squarely with the likelihood of an all out world war between the superpowers, and nuclear war especially.

Reply to  David Blackall
February 7, 2019 9:52 pm

Sure it does, David. The beneficial effects of higher CO2 levels on the Earth’s climate are well-measured. Here are some references:

E.g., National Geographic

Images taken between 1982 and 2002 revealed extensive regreening throughout the Sahel, according to a new study in the journal Biogeosciences. / The study suggests huge increases in vegetation in areas including central Chad and western Sudan. …
“Before, there was not a single scorpion, not a single blade of grass,”‍‍‍‍‍‍ he said. “Now you have people grazing their camels in areas which may not have been used for hundreds or even thousands of years. You see birds, ostriches, gazelles coming back, even sorts of amphibians coming back… The trend has continued for more than 20 years. It is indisputable.”‍‍‍‍‍‍

We even get a little bit of welcome warming from rising CO2 levels (mostly reflected in warmer nighttime lows, at high latitudes, in winter).

One of the fathers of modern climatology, Svante Arrhenius, predicted, in his famous 1908 book, that rising CO2 levels will cause:

“more equable and better climates, especially as regards to the colder regions of the earth… [and] the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops…”

comment image

Which is right.

February 7, 2019 4:12 pm

Perhaps bombing innocent civilians across the Middle East might bring them some mental health problems a little more important than the weather.

Reply to  Tim
February 7, 2019 6:59 pm

Yep, which is why it’s so great that we really hit ISIS hard.

Reply to  Tim
February 8, 2019 5:16 am

You are right, muslims bombing women and children all across the ME has created huge mental problems which cause these women and children to continue to embrace islam.

February 7, 2019 5:09 pm

Snowflakes shouldn’t reproduce – just too many issues.

David Chappell
February 7, 2019 7:38 pm

The mothers-to-be must have had exceedingly long pregnancies to notice any climate change.

February 7, 2019 8:29 pm

O.P. refers to “… excessive amount of cortisol … passed … to fetus.” Placenta has an enzyme (11 beta-HSD2, from gene HSD11B2) that neutralizes maternal cortisol into an inactive cortisol before passing the molecule to the fetus.

So the individual genetics becomes relevant; if alteration of the enzyme activity or level of the gene splicing then maternal cortisol can be an issue. This context modifies the supposed side effects if a depressed pregnant women has elevated cortisol.

Yet, apparently the only determined effect of anxiety/depression on infants is less muscle tone.
Meaning the neuro-biological behavior of an infant can not be anticipated by evident anxiety/depression of it’s mother during pregnancy.

By clarifying the over-simplification that cortisol stress levels are detrimental I am not negating there are some depressed women who can be impacting their fetus leading to issues in infancy. But my belief is that, the maternal modifications (in some) can more regularly be provoked by modern lifestyle (ex: late night blue & disregulated sleep/wake/eat cycles) than a single event
(ex: natural disaster).

Citing free full (2017) available on-line : “Prenatal depression and infant temperament: The moderating role of placental gene expression.”

Dale S
February 8, 2019 6:24 am

Looking at the paper, the sample size (of mothers evaluating their own offspring) consisted of 310; the breakdown between depressed and non-depressed was sadly not given. 200 were pre-Sandy and 110 were pregnant during Sandy — 75 1st trimester, 20 2nd trimester, and 15 3rd trimester. I find this very curious timing, that most of the Sandy babies were in 1st trimester at the stage of the storm, with very few in the 3rd trimester, yet all 200 non-Sandy children were conceived before the storm. It would make more sense if the trimesters were reversed, so winding down during the storm. Since the evaluation was 6 months after birth, an unknown fraction of the non-Sandy would have had their evaluation prior to the Storm, which I imagine may possibly have had some influence on living conditions.

Taking Sandy out of the equation, and evaluating 14 different subdomain, after adjusting for cofounders they found a significant difference between depressed and not (Model 2) in nine different areas:
Distress (p=0.04)
Fear (p=0.04)
Smiling and Laughter (p=0.0004)
High pleasure seeking (p=0.03)
Low pleasure seeking (p=0.02)
Soothability (p=0.004)
Falling [recovery from distress] (p=0.006)
Cuddliness (p=.0003)
Sadness (p=0.00003)

So far so good — and the fact that the most significant involved sadness, distress, smiling & laughter, cuddliness and soothability are perfect fits for the depressed mom’s own feelings.

The next step seems like a good cross check on these conclusions, split the population into two groups and see if those things are still significant. It’s not an even split between pre-Sandy birth and pregnant during Sandy, but unless there’s some reason to think that being in utero during a natural disaster is going to be different than being a baby during a natural disaster, any of the detected effects in the larger population should also show up in this sample, right? Let’s go to the p-values for the nine areas significantfrom the full pool, listing Sandy pregnancy first and pre-Sandy second. From figure 2:

Distress (p=0.03, p=0.80)
Fear (p=0.11, p=0.20)
Smiling and Laughter (p=0.93,p=0.23)
High pleasure seeking (p=0.34,p=0.59)
Low pleasure seeking (p=0.31,p=0.44)
Soothability (p=0.99,p=0.24)
Falling [recovery from distress] (p=0.37,p=0.26)
Cuddliness (p=.81,p=0.02)
Sadness (p=0.05, p=0.09)

At this point I’ve got to wonder how Model 2 in table 3 managed sub .01 p values for 5 different attributes, when *not one* of the nine attributes managed significance in both populations. In fact, only one of the attributes (sadness, the closest complement to depression) managed to have both populations below 0.20. Now Model 2 does show lower p-values than Model 1 (unadjusted for race, age, education, etc), and figure 2 appears to be unadjusted, but at this point I’m wondering how few depressed mothers are in the sample for splitting the population to have such a dramatic effect.

However, the paper’s reaction isn’t “our sensitivity exercise shows there might be a problem” — instead it’s “by george, it must be the *storm* that did it. They produce a Model 3 that adjusts for the effects of the storm, assuming the differences in the two populations is real and storm-induced. This reduces Model 2’s nine areas at 0.05 or below to five, dramatically increasing their p values as well (only Smiling and Laughter remains below 0.01). But it does let them report a Sandy-related hook, which gets the sexy climate change angle in despite Sandy being weather, not climate change.

As I showed above, only three of the earlier nine showed p values of 0.05 or below for the depressed/non-depressed split, once broken into the Sandy splits. But with 28 different possibilities, we’d expect chance to produce another one or two spurious correlations — and we get two more, Activity and Approach. Let’s look at those:

Activity (1 to 9 scale):
4.06 (0.17 se) Sandy-normal
4.87 (0.29 se) Sandy-depressed
4.15 (0.11 se) pre-Sandy-normal
4.10 (0.21 se) pre-Sandy-depressed

So three of the four groups have overlapping means +/- standard error, and one group — almost certainly the smallest group — is substantially higher. That’s a result! It obviously means that being in the womb during Sandy causes babies to be significantly *higher* in activity, but only if the mother is depressed! I’m not qualified to comment on whether the physical explanation at the end of the paper is remotely plausible, it certainly doesn’t lack weasel words.

Here’s the other new one, Approach, whatever that is.

Approach (1 to 9 scale):
5.46 (0.17 se) Sandy-normal
6.03 (0.30 se) Sandy-depressed
5.37 (0.11 se) pre-Sandy-normal
5.16 (0.21 se) pre-Sandy-depressed

Again one outlier that doesn’t overlap with se, though not by much. Note that the depressed have less approach pre sandy and more approach post-Sandy.

So not terribly impressed. Of the 14 traits are there any traits where the two *non*depressed samples, presumably larger, don’t have overlapping means +/- standard error? Five of them fit that description, but the difference between the margins is quite small except for Cuddliness (6.01 with 0.08 for pre-Sandy, 5.63 with 0.12 for Sandy). But bear in mind that the Sandy babies are heavily concentrated in a single trimester, so there may be *seasonal* factors involved instead of just Sandy-ness.

February 8, 2019 6:56 am

‘mental health problems in children born to mothers with prenatal depression’

The world MUST BE RESTRUCTURED for the benefit of children born to mothers with prenatal depression.

Johann Wundersamer
February 8, 2019 9:38 am

“The study considered 310 pairs of mothers and children, recruited from clinics that serve patients from around the boroughs of New York City.”

and this is a serious scientific objective double blind study.

with 310 pairs of mothers and children from around the boroughs of New York City.

What yellow press publishes that.

February 8, 2019 3:24 pm

Back in the day when I was an engineer there were three terms that I could not stand. They were: quantum leap, paradigm shift, and exponential anything. If I heard any of those phrases during a meeting or presentation, my eyes would glaze over and I would catch up on some much needed sleep.

February 10, 2019 11:37 am

The surprising side of the article is that the “ it takes a village concept from HRC” is ignored. The influence of the families on the infants is never considered.

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