New Study Finds Depression During Pregnancy Linked To Premature Births

By admin
July 26, 2012

Women who have depression symptoms during pregnancy may be more likely to deliver prematurely, a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology finds.

Researchers found that of more than 14,000 pregnant women, those who screened positive for possible clinical depression had an increased chance of preterm birth, with 14 percent delivering before the 37th week, compared to 10 percent of other women.

Despite researchers accounting for other risk factors, like a mother's race and age, depression was still linked to preterm birth risk. The results were also similar to previous studies that have found a link between prenatal depression and preterm birth.

"And with depression being a form of serious stress for moms, a link to preterm birth is also "biologically plausible," said senior researcher Dr. Richard K. Silver of the University of Chicago in Illinois.

Even after accounting for certain factors, including the mom's age, race, antidepressant use, and history of preterm birth, women with depression symptoms were 30 percent more likely than symptom-free women to deliver early.

While the findings do not prove cause-and-effect, nor that treating depression will prevent premature births, Dr. Silver said it remains to be seen whether depression treatment — be it medication or talk therapy — improves women's pregnancy outcomes.

In the meantime, Silver said pregnant women with depression should be educated on the potential warning signs of preterm labor, including pressure in the pelvis that feels like the baby pushing down, vaginal bleeding, and cramps or contractions that come every 10 minutes or more often.

While medications can be administered to stop early labor or at least delay birth, many women prefer to avoid medication of any kind during pregnancy. In such cases, "talk therapy" or support groups are also options, although be sure to talk to your Women's HealthFirst doctor since availability and insurance coverage can vary.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, depression screening can benefit pregnant women, new moms and their families, and should be "strongly considered" by women and their healthcare providers. Be sure to talk to your Women's HealthFirst doctor to determine if this option is right for you.

[image via AP]

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