Researchers at Brigham & Women's Hospital have identified new factors contributing to postpartum depression (PPD) risk including birth season and use of anesthesia during delivery.
Researchers analyzed over 20,000 medical records of women who gave birth between June 2015 and August 2017 - 817 of whom developed PPD.
Lead study author Dr. Jie Zhou and his team hope the following discoveries will lead to greater reduction of risk for more women:
The analysis revealed that the risk of PPD was lower for women who gave birth in spring or winter, compared with those who gave birth in the fall or summer.
Additionally, the researchers found that women with a high body mass index (BMI) were more likely to develop PPD than those with a healthy BMI, while white women had a lower risk of the condition than other races or ethnicities.
The study also revealed that women who did not receive an epidural or any other anesthetic during delivery were at greater risk of PPD, which the team speculates may be down to the greater pain they experienced.
What is Postpartum Depression?
PPD is more than the "baby blues." It is defined as extreme feelings of anxiety, sadness, and tiredness that occur after giving birth. Without treatment, such feelings can seriously impact a mother's emotional and physical health. This may make it difficult for her to bond with or care for her baby. In severe cases, a mother may think about harming herself or her child.