January 3, 2014
Fear Of Childbirth Predicts Postpartum Depression
Expectant women with prenatally diagnosed fear of childbirth are at an increased risk of postpartum depression, according to a study of over 500,000 mothers in Finland. Women with a history of depression are at the highest risk of postpartum depression. The fact that fear of childbirth puts women without a history of depression at an approximately three times higher risk of postpartum depression is a new observation which may help health care professionals in recognizing postpartum depression. The results were published recently in BMJ Open.
In Finland, postpartum depression was diagnosed in 0.3% of all mothers delivering a singleton birth in 2002–2010. The risk of postpartum depression is highest after the first childbirth. Postpartum depression was diagnosed in 5.3% of women with a history of depression, while approximately one-third of women experiencing postpartum depression had no history of depression. In these women, physician-diagnosed fear of childbirth during pregnancy was discovered to nearly triple the risk of postpartum depression. Other risk factors included Caesarean section, pre-term birth and major congenital anomaly.
Women with a history of depression are known to be at a higher risk of postpartum depression, but it has been difficult to predict the risk of women not belonging to this risk group. According to the researchers, the observed link between fear of childbirth and postpartum depression may help health care professionals in recognising postpartum depression. The study provides strong evidence, as it relies on diagnosis-based data on postpartum depression.
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