Pregnancy Depression Linked to Adverse Birth Outcomes

Association seen with preterm birth, low birth weight, but various factors affect the relationship
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal depression during pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of preterm birth (PTB) and low birth weight (LBW), though the strength of the relationship varies by country, measurement of depression, and, in the United States, socioeconomic status, according to research published in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Nancy K. Grote, Ph.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed data from 29 studies published in the United States and internationally that reported on antenatal depression and adverse birth outcomes.

The researchers found that depression during pregnancy -- whether measured categorically or continuously -- was associated with modest but significant risks of PTB and LBW. The risk of LBW associated with antenatal depression was higher in developing countries (relative risk, 2.05) compared to the United States (relative risk, 1.10). In the United States, categorically defined depression tended to be linked to higher risk of PTB in those with lower socioeconomic status.

"Our overall pattern of findings in this meta-analysis highlights the salient public health risk of PTB and LBW posed by antenatal depression, particularly for socioeconomically disadvantaged women in developing countries and in the United States. An important implication of these findings is that pregnant women should be universally screened for depression and provided guideline-level treatment before childbirth," the authors conclude.

Two co-authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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