Prenatal Parental Depression Increases Risk Of Premature Baby

Published on March 29th, 2016

Prenatal Parental Depression Increases Risk Of Premature Baby

A new study has found that having a mother or father who is depressed increases the risk of preterm birth. Using data on 366,499 singleton births, Swedish researchers assessed whether parents had been given a diagnosis of depression a year prior to conception and the end of the second trimester.

In the study, parental depression was defined as having filled a prescription for an antidepressant drug or having been in outpatient or inpatient hospital care with a diagnosis of depression from 12 months before conception until 24 weeks after conception. Indication of depression after 12 months with no depression was defined as ‘new depression’. All other cases were defined as ‘recurrent depression’.

New depression was associated with 34 percent risk for mothers to have a preterm birth. Recurrent maternal depression was associated with 42 percent increased risk. Recurrent parental depression was not associated with preterm birth. New paternal depression increased the risk for moderately preterm birth by 38 percent. The study conducted by BJOG controlled for maternal depression, parents’ age, smoking and among other factors.

Depression in both mothers and fathers is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth. Intervention studies that identify and treat depression in parents are needed to confirm the clinical implications of this study. Interventions to prevent preterm birth in maternal and child health programmes usually target the mother-fetus only. If the father is to be targeted it is usually in terms of potential abuse. Both prenatal and paternal depressive symptoms have been been related to adverse health and developmental outcomes in babies. This particular study indicates that the mother-child dyad should be upgraded to a mother-father-child triad in prevention and pregnancy care, with screening for treatment of mental health problems in mother and father. Men, are less likely than women to identify themselves as suffering from mental health issues, and to seek professional help, an active approach towards targeting fathers well being may be appropriate.

Read The Full Story: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gyneacology and The New York Times

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