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Diabetes a risk factor for postpartum depression
Date:2/24/2009

BOSTON, Mass. (Feb 23, 2009) Postpartum depression is a seriousand often undiagnosedcondition affecting about 10 to 12 percent of new mothers. Some of the causes might include personal history of depression, stressful life events, and lack of social, financial or emotional support. Left untreated, it can have lasting negative effects not only on the mother but on her child's development.

In the first study of its kind, investigators at Harvard Medical School and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health report that low-income women with diabetes have a more than 50% increased risk of experiencing this serious illness.

"While previous studies have linked diabetes and depression in the general population, this is the first time, to our knowledge, that the relationship has been studied specifically in pregnant women and new mothers," says Katy Backes Kozhimannil, research fellow in the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. "We believe these findings may help clinicians better identify and treat depression in new mothers."

These findings are published in the February 25 edition of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For over 25 years, clinicians have been aware that new mothers are at risk for postpartum depression. However, the condition is difficult to identify. Many symptoms are attributed to the every-day struggles of being a new mother. Others, such as irrational thoughts about harming the baby or, conversely, obsessing over the baby's health, are simply difficult for new mothers to admit.

To investigate the potential link between diabetes and postpartum depression, Kozhimannil and Bernard Harlow, professor in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health, examined medical claims data from the New Jersey Medicaid program, looking at information from 11,024 new mothers who had given birth between
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Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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