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Likely cause of postpartum blues and depression identified
Date:8/7/2008

on that enables the MCG researchers to follow 300 more women to see if their blood also bears out his hypotheses. They'll look at interleukin-1 beta levels before delivery and at certain intervals afterward to see if they increase after delivery, then level off as Dr. Prasad suspects. They'll also analyze DNA to see if women identified with more serious postpartum depression have some of the same variations of the serotonin transporter gene already identified with non-pregnancy related depression.

Many studies have looked at these genetic variations in non-pregnancy-related depression but not in postpartum depression, Dr. Prasad says.

They expect their studies will advance the understanding of the biochemical basis of postpartum blues and depression and point toward ways to better identify and treat it.

Up to 80 percent of women experience at least a few weeks of postpartum blues, 10-15 percent have more serious depression that may last a month or more and 1-5 percent experience severe psychosis that can last up to a year, Dr. Prasad says.

Rapidly changing hormone levels have been blamed for postpartum blues and depression, although hormone therapy doesn't seem to help. "We are thinking that one of the things that is missing immediately following delivery is the placenta, and that this initiates a cascade of events leading to postpartum blues/depression."


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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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