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Controlling childbirth pain tied to lower depression risk
Date:7/23/2014

CHICAGO --- Controlling pain during childbirth and post delivery may reduce the risk of postpartum depression, writes Katherine Wisner, M.D., a Northwestern Medicine perinatal psychiatrist, in a July 23 editorial in Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Wisner's editorial is based on a new Chinese study that found women who had pain control with epidural anesthesia during a vaginal delivery had a much lower risk for postpartum depression than women who didn't have the epidural.

"Maximizing pain control in labor and delivery with your obstetrician and anesthesia team might help reduce the risk of postpartum depression," Wisner said.

The study findings are among the few to examine the relationship between pain during labor and postpartum depression.

"It's a huge omission that there has been almost nothing in postpartum depression research about pain during labor and delivery and postpartum depression," Wisner said. "There is a well-known relationship between acute and chronic pain and depression."

Wisner is director of Northwestern's Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders. She also is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a psychiatrist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The Chinese study found that women who had an epidural for pain relief during labor for a vaginal delivery had a 14 percent rate of depression at six weeks postpartum compared to nearly 35 percent rate of depression for those who did not have the pain relief. An epidural was the only means of pain control available to the women.

The study also found that breastfeeding was more common in the group who had an epidural for pain compared to those who did not (70 percent versus 50 percent.)

"These findings are quite exciting and further research should be done to confirm them, especially in women at
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Contact: Marla Paul
marla-paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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