Nearly half of Canadian adults will suffer from a psychiatric disorder at some point, and in many cases, the disorder will first emerge in childhood. Because brain plasticity decreases with age, the perinatal period may represent our best chance to reduce the occurrence of psychiatric disorders. As Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Mental Health, Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout is trying to figure out how.
He and his research team are testing the scientific validity and clinical potential of the developmental origins of health and disease to reduce the prevalence and severity of psychiatric disorders. They are using three models of perinatal stress-postpartum depression, maternal pregnancy obesity and preterm birth-and observational and experimental methods to better understand how psychiatric disorders develop and reduce their effects. By optimizing brain development, they hope to contribute to a future where fewer people experience psychiatric disorders.