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Surprising rate of women depressed after baby
Date:3/14/2013

, women who have been pregnant in the past year are less likely to seek treatment for depression than women who have not been pregnant, previous research has shown.

Maximizing a woman's overall mental and physical health in pregnancy and after childbirth is critically important.

"Depression during pregnancy increases the risk to a woman and her fetus," Wisner said. "Depression is a physiological dysregulation disorder of the entire body."

Maternal prenatal stress and depression is linked to preterm birth and low infant birth weight, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Depression also affects a woman's appetite, nutrition and prenatal care and is associated with increased alcohol and drug use. Women with untreated depression have a higher body mass index preconception, which carries additional risks.

When a new mother is depressed, her emotional state can interfere with child development and increases the rate of insecure attachment and poor cognitive performance of her child, Wisner said.

Screening prenatal and postpartum are essential (Illinois requires mandatory screening for perinatal mental health disorders), but the health care field must develop cost effective and accessible treatment, Wisner emphasized.

"If we identify patients we must have treatment to offer them," Wisner said.


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Contact: Erin White
ewhite@northwestern.edu
847-491-4888
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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