FRIDAY, June 24, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women with depression receive inconsistent treatment and, as a result, may spend more time in the hospital before their babies are born, a new study finds.
Researchers followed 20 health care providers at six Michigan clinics and found a lack of uniformity in treating pregnant women with depression. Often, health care providers felt burdened by the responsibility of needing to make instant decisions about issues, and there was great variation in those decisions -- even within the same clinic.
"There was no system-level support for providers. They felt as if they were making decisions out on an island," principal investigator Dr. Christie Palladino, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Georgia Health Sciences University, said in a university news release.
In addition, many of the providers were uncomfortable talking about depression with both patients and mental health care providers.
All these factors combined may explain why fewer than half of pregnant women with depression receive treatment for the mental health disorder, Palladino and colleagues said.
The study appears in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.
In a prior study, Palladino found that pregnant women with depression have much longer hospital stays (more than 24 hours prior to delivery) than pregnant women without depression.
"That's a long time for an otherwise healthy woman to be in the hospital before going into labor," Palladino said. "It has serious consequences for the mother, for the family and for the hospital system in terms of time and cost."
The U.S. National Women's Health Information Center has more about depression during and after pregnancy.