Premature birth linked to maternal depression

Mental health US research links depression in pregnancy to preterm birth, irrespective of medication.

Pregnant women who are depressed are twice as likely to suffer a preterm delivery, US research suggests. For this latest study, the researchers interviewed 791 pregnant women around the tenth week of their pregnancy.

Just under half of the women, 41 per cent, reported significant or severe depressive symptoms.

Only 1.5 per cent of the women were taking antidepressants during the study, so it provides a clear look at the link between depression and preterm delivery without being influenced by drug use.

Overall, 6 per cent of the women had a preterm birth.

After adjusting for other risk factors such as smoking status, they found that women who were severely depressed were 2.2 times more likely to suffer a preterm delivery, defined as a delivery before 37 weeks, than women who were not depressed.

Lead researcher Dr De-Kun Li, from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, said: 'This study adds to emerging evidence that depression in early pregnancy may interfere with the neuroendocrine pathways and subsequently placental function.

'The placenta and neuroendocrine functions play an important role in maintaining the health of a pregnancy and determining the onset of labour.'

Depression during pregnancy is under-recognised and under-diagnosed, warned Dr Li.

'If prenatal depression is indeed as prevalent as reported in this and other studies and doubles the risk of preterm delivery, then bringing depression to the forefront of prenatal care could lead to a significant reduction of preterm deliveries.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Human Reproduction Online 2008.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in


Just published

Young doctor

BMA poll could see 'demeaning' junior doctor title ditched

The BMA could drop the term 'junior doctor' in favour of 'resident doctor' to better...

Houses of parliament

Tory peer calls PA fears 'Luddism' and claims most GP visits 'incredibly straightforward'

Most GP appointments are 'incredibly straightforward' and fears over a wider role...

UK money

NHS pension contribution overhaul to go ahead from April

Changes to NHS pension contribution rates, which will see the top earners required...

BMA sign

BMA warns £800m lost from GP contract since 2019 as last-ditch talks continue

BMA negotiators remain in talks over an improved GP contract offer for 2024/25 just...

GP consultation

GPs still under pressure to prescribe black triangle drug inclisiran

GPs are continuing to face pressure to prescribe the black triangle drug inclisiran...

BMA chair Professor Phil Banfield

Lords urged to block legislation for GMC to regulate PAs

The BMA has urged peers to block legislation that would make the GMC responsible...