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Fear of Childbirth Is an Indicator for Postpartum Depression

Fear of Childbirth Is an Indicator for Postpartum Depression

Women without previous episodes of depression were at an increased risk of postpartum depression if they showed a physician-diagnosed fear of childbirth, a recent population-based study found.

Researchers looked at three national health registers of singleton births from 2002-2010 in Finland and found, as expected, that women with a history of depression have the highest risk of postpartum depression. However, they also found that among the 30% of women with postpartum depression who didn’t have a history of depression, the risk of postpartum depression nearly tripled if a physician had diagnosed fear of childbirth during pregnancy (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.71; 95% CI, 1.98 to 3.71).

Other risk factors for postpartum depression included cesarean section (aOR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.08 to 1.77), preterm birth (aOR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.08 to 2.56), and major congenital anomaly (aOR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.15 to 2.42).

The researchers suggested that the link between fear of childbirth and postpartum depression may help physicians and health care professionals recognize postpartum depression in women who are not predisposed for depression. They also pointed out that their findings are consistent with prior analysis showing prenatal depression and maternal anxiety are risk factors for postpartum depression.

“The challenge is to recognize this low-risk group in a timely manner and to identify the factors placing these apparently low-risk women at high risk of developing postpartum depression,” the authors wrote.

Pertinent Points:
- Physician-diagnosed fear of childbirth in expectant mothers nearly tripled the risk of postpartum depression among women who didn’t have a history of depression, according to a recent study.
- The highest risk factor for postpartum depression, however, was having a history of depression.
- Other risk factors for postpartum depression included cesarean section, preterm birth, and major congenital anomaly.

References

Reference
Räisänen S, Lehto SM, Nielsen HS, et al. Fear of childbirth predicts postpartum depression: a population-based analysis of 511 422 singleton births in Finland. BMJ Open. 2013;3:e004047. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004047
 
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