Peer support halves postnatal depression risk

Telephone peer support between mothers can halve the risk of developing postnatal depression, Canadian research suggests.

Photograph: iStockphoto/Damir Cudic
Photograph: iStockphoto/Damir Cudic

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 701 mothers to receive either standard postnatal care or standard care and the support of a peer volunteer.

Mothers who received peer support had half the risk of developing postnatal depression at 12 weeks after birth than those in the control group.

80% of women who received telephone support stated that they were satisfied with their experience and would recommend the method to a friend.

Writing in an accompanying editorial, Dr Cindy-Lee Dennis, from the University of Toronto, said that ‘women and family members need to educated about postnatal depression so they can recognise the symptoms, and treatment needs to be convenient and accessible to new mothers’.

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