Race/Ethnicity Linked to Risk of Antenatal Depression

Black and Asian/Pacific Islander women likelier than whites to suffer from antenatal depression

THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Black and Asian/Pacific Islander women are more likely to experience antenatal depression than non-Hispanic whites, according to a study published online Jan. 31 in General Hospital Psychiatry.

Amelia R. Gavin, Ph.D., of the University of Washington School of Social Work in Seattle, and colleagues investigated differences in the prevalence of antenatal depression among blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and non-Hispanic whites. Antenatal depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire in 1,997 women receiving prenatal care at a university clinic between January 2004 and March 2010. The link between race/ethnicity and depression during pregnancy was examined after accounting for sociodemographic, psychiatric, behavioral, and clinical characteristics.

The researchers found that 5.1 percent of the women reported antenatal depression. Blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders were more likely to be depressed than non-Hispanic whites, even after controlling for confounders. Other risk factors that were correlated with a higher risk of antenatal depression included high psychosocial stress levels, antenatal domestic violence, less education, preexisting medical conditions, and antenatal suicidal ideation.

"Results suggest the importance of race/ethnicity as a risk factor for antenatal depression. Prevention and treatment strategies geared toward the mental health needs of black and Asian/Pacific Islander women are needed to reduce the racial/ethnic disparities in antenatal depression," the authors write.

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