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Younger Women More Vulnerable to Postpartum Depression

Physical abuse, smoking during pregnancy and stress common risk factors

TUESDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- As many as one-fifth of new mothers experience postpartum depression, according to a study published in the April 11 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

To ascertain the prevalence of self-reported postpartum depressive symptoms and identify the factors that put new mothers at risk, Kate Brett, Ph.D., of the National Center for Health Statistics in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System for 2004 to 2005.

The prevalence of postpartum depression varies across the 17 states covered by the report, ranging from 11.7 percent in Maine to 20.4 percent in New Mexico. Women who were younger, had a lower educational level, and women who received Medicaid benefits for the delivery were more likely to report postpartum depression. Five common risk factors were smoking during the third trimester of pregnancy, physical abuse before or during pregnancy, and trauma-, partner- and financial-related stress.

"State and local health departments should evaluate the effectiveness of targeting mental health services to these mothers and incorporating messages about postpartum depression into existing programs (e.g., domestic violence services) for women at higher risk," the authors write.

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