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Study shows phyical therapy exercise program can reduce risk of postnatal depression in new mothers
Date:3/22/2010

ALEXANDRIA, VA A physical therapy exercise and health education program is effective in improving postnatal well-being and reducing the risk for postnatal depression (PND), according to a randomized controlled trial published in the March issue of Physical Therapy, (PTJ) the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

Postnatal depression (PND) is a major health issue affecting up to 13% of all new mothers throughout the world, with most cases beginning in the first 3 months of the postnatal period. Although its duration varies among mothers, it is thought to be determined by sociocultural factors, such as self-esteem of the mother, the childbirth experience, and the availability of support and local services.

Previous studies have shown that general exercise improves mood states in younger and older women, improves well-being, and leads to a reduction in depressive symptoms in mothers diagnosed with PND. However, no studies have evaluated the benefits of group physical therapy exercise approaches to improve psychological health outcomes of women postnatally.

"Giving birth involves many changes in a woman's physical, emotional, and social health," said Mary P. Galea, BAppSci (Physio), BA, PhD, Professor of Clinical Physiotherapy in the School of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, one of the authors of this study. "A group exercise program led by a physical therapist, who is an expert in improving and restoring motion to people's daily lives, can help mothers who may be at risk for PND improve their well-being and enable them to better care for their children."

In this study, 161 English-speaking women who were being discharged from the postnatal ward of The Angliss Hospital were randomly assigned to an experimental Mother & Baby (M&B) Program or an education only (EO) group. Once a week for 8 weeks the M&B group, comprised of 62 women, undertook 1 hour of
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Contact: Erin Wendel
erinwendel@apta.org
703-706-3397
American Physical Therapy Association
Source:Eurekalert

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