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Risk Factors for Depression in Pregnancy Studied

Maternal anxiety, lack of social support, life stresses among factors linked to depression

FRIDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Clinicians providing obstetric care to pregnant women should be on the lookout for social, psychological, family and situational factors associated with increased risk for depression in pregnancy, according to a study in the January issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Christie A. Lancaster, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues searched the medical literature from 1980 through 2008 for studies on depression in pregnancy. The reviewers screened 1,361 articles and ultimately conducted a meta-analysis on 57 high-quality studies meeting their inclusion criteria.

The researchers found that risk factors associated with depression in pregnancy included maternal anxiety (strong association); life stresses such as divorce or family death (medium association); a lack of social support (medium association); having an unintended pregnancy (medium association); being a victim of domestic violence (small-to-medium association); income (small association); education (small association); being on Medicaid (significant association); and a history of depression (significant association). The reviewers found inconsistent associations for smoking, alcohol use, illicit drug use, parity, maternal race/ethnicity, and maternal age.

"Our results are important for practicing clinicians because they identify risk factors that can be assessed during routine obstetric care. For current practice, providers should especially consider the likelihood of depressive symptoms in women with these risk factors, such as report of domestic violence or a lack of social support during pregnancy," the authors write.

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