Depression in pregnancy tied to preterm birth

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Women with depression symptoms early in pregnancy may be at heightened risk of delivering prematurely, a study published Thursday suggests.

Researchers found that among 791 pregnant women they followed, those who were suffering from significant depression symptoms around the 10th week of pregnancy were twice as likely as non-depressed women to give birth too early.

What’s more, the risk of preterm delivery rose in tandem with the severity of early-pregnancy depression — supporting a direct relationship between the two.

The findings, which appear in the journal Human Reproduction, suggest that depression itself may contribute to premature delivery. Most women in the study were not on antidepressant drugs, indicating that medication side effects are not an explanation.

The bottom line for women is that depression during pregnancy should not be dismissed as something normal, according to lead researcher Dr. De-Kun Li, an epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California.

“They should bring it to the attention of their family members and their doctors,” Li told Reuters Health.

The findings, according to Li, shine a spotlight on the potential consequences of prenatal depression. While postpartum depression is a well-recognized problem, he noted, depression during pregnancy has received little attention.

That’s despite the fact that prenatal depression appears to be common; 41 percent of the women in the current study had moderate to severe depression symptoms, based on a standard screening questionnaire.  Continued…


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