By targeting the factors that may play a significant role in the development of postpartum depression (PPD) in adolescent mothers, researchers at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island believe they have found a way to prevent it.
The team led by Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, interim chief of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Division of Research at Women & Infants, and Caron Zlotnick, PhD, of the hospital's Center for Women's Behavioral Health recently published "Randomized controlled trial to prevent postpartum depression in adolescent mothers" in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"Postpartum depression puts adolescent mothers and their children at risk in an already challenging time in their lives," Dr. Phipps explains. "This hardship may be a major determinant of poor outcomes for these young mothers and their children. Untreated, depression is associated with school dropout, suicide and substance abuse."
In addition, Dr. Phipps says adolescents who are depressed do not tend to focus on their baby's health or their own.
"Overall, children who are born to mothers with untreated depression show higher rates of developmental delays, lower levels of social engagement, increased stress reactivity, and negative interactions as compared with children of mothers who are not depressed," she adds.
Most teenage mothers with mental health problems are currently undertreated. The research team sought to test the effectiveness of an intervention called REACH (Relaxation, Encouragement, Appreciation, Communication, Helpfulness), adapted from an interpersonal therapy-based prevention intervention that had been found to reduce PPD in adults.
For this study, pregnant girls up to age 18 were recruited through Women & Infants' Womens Primary Care Center in 2007 and 2008. Half were enrolled in the REACH program, an intervention delivered over five one-hour sessions during pregnancy and on
|Contact: Susan McDonald|
Women & Infants Hospital