Diabetes doubles chances of postpartum depression
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pregnant women and new moms with diabetes are nearly twice as likely as other women to become depressed, putting both mother and baby at risk, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
"Postpartum depression is a very serious illness that affects between 10 and 12 percent of mothers every year. It may have long-term negative impacts on the women it affects, but also on their children and families," said Katy Backes Kozhimannil of Harvard Medical School in Boston, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Other research has shown that people with diabetes have a higher risk of becoming depressed.
"Ours is really the first study that looks at this connection in the context of pregnancy, delivery and motherhood," Kozhimannil said in a telephone interview.
For the study, the researchers examined medical claims data from more than 11,000 pregnant women enrolled in New Jersey's Medicaid program from July 2004 to September 2006. The data covered six months before to one year after the women gave birth.
"What our study found is pregnant women and new mothers with diabetes have nearly double the chance of experiencing postpartum depression compared with those without diabetes," she said.
This link remained consistent across all types of diabetes, including in women with gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy.
"I think the most important finding is the revelation of a new risk factor for postpartum depression," Kozhimannil said.
Knowing this may give doctors a better shot at identifying women at risk for postpartum depression, which often is under-diagnosed and under-treated.
If not addressed, women with postpartum depression can become so despondent they attempt suicide, and some harm or neglect their newborns. Previous bouts of depression, a lack of social support, low self-esteem and a stressful pregnancy all increase the likelihood of postpartum depression.
"It's important to target support efforts toward women at high risk," Kozhimannil said. "The good news is both depression and diabetes are treatable illnesses."
(Editing by Will Dunham and Eric Walsh)
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