Washington: A an analysis of previous research has revealed that about 10 percent of fathers experience prenatal or postpartum depression, with rates being highest in the 3 to 6 month postpartum period.
Maternal prenatal and postpartum depression is a well accepted phenomena, but the prevalence, risk factors and effects of depression among new fathers is not well understood, and has received little attention from researchers and clinicians, according to background information in the article.
James F. Paulson, of the Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va., and co-author Sharnail D. Bazemore, M.S., of the Eastern Virginia Medical School conducted a study that documented depression in fathers between the first trimester and the first postpartum year, and identified 43 studies involving 28,004 participants for inclusion in the analysis.
They found that the overall estimate of paternal depression was 10.4 percent, and that there was considerable variability between different time periods, with the 3- to 6-month postpartum period showing the highest rate (25.6 percent) and the first 3 postpartum months showing the lowest rate (7.7 percent).
They also found higher rates of prenatal and postpartum depression reported in the United States (14.1 percent vs. 8.2 percent internationally).
The study suggests that not only does early paternal depression have substantial emotional, behavioural, and developmental effects on children, but also that depression in one parent should prompt clinical attention to the other.
"Future research in this area should focus on parents together to examine the onset and joint course of depression in new parents. This may increase our capacity for early identification of parental depression, add leverage for prevention and treatment, and increase the understanding of how parental depression conveys risk to infants and young children."
The study appears in the May 19 issue of JAMA.