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Postpartum Depression Can Strike New Dads
Date:5/18/2010

1 in 10 men is affected, and a depressed partner can raise the risk, study finds

TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Although many people know that new moms are at increased risk of depression following the birth of a child, new research suggests that about 10 percent of new dads experience the "baby blues," too.

What's more, the researchers found that if the mother experiences postpartum depression, the father is more apt to be depressed also, which puts the baby at a significantly greater risk of developing emotional, behavioral and developmental problems later on, according to the study.

"Pre- and postnatal depression in men is real. The overall rate of depression in fathers was 10.4 percent in our analysis, about twice what we would expect in the general population of men," said the study's lead author, James Paulson, an associate professor and clinical psychologist at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

Results of the study are published in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Postpartum depression affects between 10 percent and 30 percent of new mothers, according to background information in the study. What's been less well-studied, according to the authors, is the risk of male depression before and after the birth of a child, as well as the potential consequences to the child.

To get a better handle on the incidence of paternal postnatal depression, Paulson and his co-author, Sharnail Bazemore, reviewed data from 43 studies including more than 28,000 men.

Overall, 10.4 percent of men experienced depression either in the pre- or postnatal period. The normal rate of depression for men in the general population is just under 5 percent, according to Paulson.

Rates of depression in men were highest when the baby was between 3 to 6 months old, reaching about 25 percent during this time period, according to the study.


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