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Alaska Natives, Depression, Indians, Mood disorders, North American, Postpartum, Postpartum period



  1. Heck, Jennifer L. PhD, RNC-NIC, CNE


Background: Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common complication of childbirth and affects one in nine new mothers in the United States.


Objective: The purpose of this review was to synthesize PPD research in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) women. Specific aims were to 1) explore the extent to which PPD literature includes AI/AN women measured by the proportion of study samples that were AI/AN women and 2) identify and analyze gaps in the PPD literature for AI/AN women.


Design: Databases were searched using: "postpartum depression" and "American Indian," "Native American," "Alaska Native," "Inuit," and "Indigenous." "Postpartum depressive symptoms" and "puerperal mood disorder" were each paired with race/ethnicity search terms, yielding a final sample of nine articles.


Results: The proportion of study samples that were AI/AN women ranged from 0.8% to 100%. Compared with all women in the United States (11%), AI/AN women have higher PPD prevalence (14%-29.7%), suggesting a disparity among the different groups of women. Screening instruments were inconsistent among studies, and not all studies used a screening instrument specific to PPD. No cultural influences, risk, or protective factors were reported for AI/AN women. In the only intervention study, no significant differences in PPD symptoms between groups were found after the intervention.


Conclusions: This review uncovered significant gaps in the literature and suggested ways to advance the PPD science for AI/AN women. Clinical implications were described.