A new study has pointed out that clinical depression during pregnancy elevates risk of delivering prematurely and of giving birth to low birth weight infants.
Risk is even higher for depressed pregnant women living in poverty in the United States and developing nations.
Being born too soon and weighing too little at birth can jeopardize the immediate survival and long-term health of babies. Preterm birth and low birth weight are leading causes worldwide of infant and early childhood mortality, respiratory distress, neurological and developmental impairment, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss and other disabilities.
Depression is common during pregnancy as well as at other times in a woman's life. Between 9 to 23 percent of women experience clinical depression while pregnant.
A multidisciplinary group of researchers at the UW, The Ohio State University, and the University of Pittsburgh - representing social work, psychiatry, statistics, obstetrics, and pediatrics - conducted the study.
Previous reports over the past decade on the association between depression during pregnancy and preterm birth and low-birth weight infants have provided an inconsistent and inconclusive picture, the researchers noted. The researchers for this project performed a meta-analysis of all available United States and non-United States studies and used rigorous state-of-the-art guidelines to examine the data.
Dr. Jeffrey Bridge of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University conducted the statistical analyses for the study. The results affirmed the strength of the link between depression during pregnancy and negative birth outcomes.
Women who are trying to have a baby, who are already pregnant or who recently gave birth and who find themselves feeling the blues, would be wise to let their health-care providers or a social service worker know. Some features of depression are a low mood, lasting sadness, sleeping or eating too much or too little, mental anguish, difficulty concentrating, worrying, withdrawing from others, or losing interest in life.