UVA researchers study postpartum depression, focus on early detection

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 10:36 AM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A group of researchers with the University of Virginia is working to further understand postpartum depression.

Roughly 1.1 million mothers participated in the “After Childbirth Survey” supported by the Flo app, which helps women track their menstrual cycle. The data set was provided to Doctor Jennifer Payne, who serves as the senior author on the UVA study.

They’re finding first-time moms, those younger than 25, and moms of twins are at the highest risk of postpartum depression.

Dr. Payne is an expert in reproductive psychiatry. She says children of depressed mothers have slower language development and lower IQs.

“We think the hormonal changes that women undergo during delivery and the immediate postpartum time period trigger postpartum depression in some susceptible women,” Dr. Payne said.

She says screening is important and early intervention can prevent negative outcomes for mothers and their children.

The percentage of women experiencing and reporting postpartum depression symptoms was highest among 18- to 24-year-olds, at 10%. The rate of postpartum depression dropped as age increased, dropping to 6.5% for 35- to 39-year-olds. 6.9% of women 40 years and older experienced symptoms.

Across every surveyed age group, postpartum depression was lower among women who had previously birthed children compared with first-time mothers.

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