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Predicting Postpartum Depression May Be Possible

Spanish researchers report 80 percent success with their method,,

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Spanish researchers report that they've developed ways to detect 80 percent of cases of postpartum depression, which is estimated to affect more than one in 10 women who give birth.

"Early diagnosis of postnatal [or, postpartum] depression would make it possible to intervene to prevent it from developing among women at risk," Salvador Tortajada, a researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and lead author of a new study on the methodology, said in a news release from the Scientific Information and News Service in Spain.

The researchers examined records on 1,397 Spanish women who gave birth in an 11-month span in seven hospitals. They devised several models that they say can predict whether a woman will develop depression within a few weeks after giving birth.

Their method achieved better accuracy rates than other models, according to the study, published recently in Methods of Information in Medicine. "Now it needs clinical evaluation and for psychiatrists to start to test it directly on patients in order to study the true potential of these tools," Tortajada said.

The researchers came up with their models by examining risk factors that are linked to postnatal depression, including previous psychiatric problems in the family, the level of social support for the mother and the state of genes connected to the condition.

They also detected two things -- older age and working during pregnancy -- that reduced the risk of postpartum depression, according to their report.

More information

The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more on pregnancy and depression.

--Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Plataforma SINC, news release, Sept. 16, 2009

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