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Public health clinic study links 'Americanization' and depression
Date:8/12/2008

The women were interviewed in eight family planning clinics and six prenatal clinics of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District (SAMHD) between May and August of 2003. Of the participants, 318 were born in Mexico and 121 in the United States. They were given the choice of conducting the interview in English or Spanish.

"The higher prevalence rate of depression in Americanized Latina women is of concern in our community as the population demographics clearly indicate a significant rate of growth of this group in their childbearing years," said Fernando A. Guerra, M.D., director of health for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. "Thus, it is important to more clearly understand the circumstances that affect their physical and emotional well-being during pregnancy so that preventive measures can be initiated. This is critical for the overall health of both the mother and child."

Women in the study were part of the Perinatal Depression Project for Healthy Start, an initiative to provide mental health services to pregnant and postpartum women by SAMHD. They were screened for depressive symptoms using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression (CES-D) Scale, a 20-item, questionnaire designed to gauge the level of depressive symptoms over the previous week. Women with a score of 21 or greater were classified as having elevated depressive symptoms.

"Women who were US-born were significantly more likely than Mexican-born women to meet the cutoff score (21 on the CES-D scale)," the authors wrote. "Women who conducted their interview in English were significantly more likely to express depressive symptoms compared to women who conducted their interview in Spanish."

Davila said symptoms of depression may include: emotional stress, helplessness, irritability and anger. Symptoms specific to the pregnancy and postpartum period can include overly intense worries about the baby, and a lack of interest or fear of harming
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Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3042
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert

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