A new study suggests that women who develop symptoms of depression during pregnancy are more likely to have pre-term deliveries.
During the study, researchers found that amongst 14,000 women who were screened for probable clinical depression had an increase in their chances of pre-term delivery. 14 percent women with depression delivered prematurely before completion of 37 weeks of gestation as compared to 10 percent who were not depression patients.
Of the 14,000 women screened for prenatal depression, nine percent screened positive which put them at higher risk of developing clinical depression. Overall, these women had higher occurrence of preterm births. The findings remained the same even after factoring the race, age and history of preterm births of the mother. Even then women with depression symptoms were 30 percent more likely to deliver early than depression-free women.
The limitation of the study was that it did not account for factors like the smoking and drinking habit of expectant mothers or the mother’s weight before pregnancy. Dr. Richard. K. Silver senior researcher of Northshore University Health system and University of Chicago said the study reiterated earlier findings which linked prenatal depression with pre-term delivery.
He said that since depression is a serious condition of stress experienced by mothers, a link between depression and preterm births is ‘biologically plausible’. Silver said the study was tricky since it was ethically wrong to deprive pregnant mothers of treatment while treating others during clinical trials.
Hence, the team relied on medical records of mothers to see if the women treated for depression had different outcomes of pregnancy as compared to pregnant women whose depression was left untreated. Thus, the study left questions about cause-and-effect.
Silver said that pregnant women with depression should be adequately warned about potential warning signs of preterm labor. These include pressure in the pelvis similar to pushing by the baby, bleeding from vagina or contractions which recur in 10 minutes intervals or more often. He noted that most women refrain from taking medications to treat depression during pregnancy. Hence, they can consider other options like help from ‘Talk groups’ or support groups.
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