Women with unintended pregnancy likelier to suffer from postpartum depression

Washington: Women with unintended pregnancy are four times more likely to suffer from postpartum depression at twelve months postpartum, a new study has suggested.

The study, conducted at the University of North Carolina prenatal clinics asked participants about pregnancy intention at 15-19 weeks gestational age, and women were classified as having an intended, mistimed or unwanted pregnancy.

Data were analysed for 688 women at three months and 550 women at twelve months.

There were 433 women (64 percent) with intended pregnancy, 207 (30 percent) with a mistimed pregnancy and 40 (6 percent) with an unwanted pregnancy.

Unintended pregnancy was classified as both mistimed and unwanted pregnancies.

Results showed that postpartum depression was more likely in women with unintended pregnancies at both three months (11 percent vs. 5 percent) and twelve months (12 percent vs. 3 percent).

The increased risk was highest at 12 months and indicated that this group of women have a long term risk of depression.

When age, education level and poverty status were factored into the results, women with unintended pregnancy were twice as likely to have postpartum depression at twelve months.

Dr Rebecca Mercier, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of North Carolina and co-author of the research said that unintended pregnancy carried to term may have a long term effect on women.

She said that healthcare professionals should therefore consider asking about pregnancy at early antepartum visits to screen for unintended pregnancy as women who report that their pregnancy was unintended or unwanted may benefit from earlier or more targeted screening both during and following pregnancy.

The study has been published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


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