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Postpartum Depression Mystery Examined

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, February 03, 2009 11:41 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Postpartum Depression, Women's Health, Hormones, FDA and Prescription Drugs

Checking for corticotropin-releasing hormone at mid pregnancy may predict postpartum depression, this study finds. 



  IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ pregnancy 34 weeks/ author: Inferis 


Who is likely to fall into a depression after giving birth?  That has largely been an unanswered question, so researchers from the University of California, Irvine looked at a likely cause.

Published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers found that an increased level of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), targets women at risk for developing depression.   The hormone is produced by the placenta and regulates many other hormones.

Researchers monitored the hormone levels in the blood of 100 pregnant women. They were checked several times during the pregnancy beginning at week 15. 

Of the 100 women monitored, 16 women developed depression after pregnancy, Reuters reports

Researchers found that measuring the amount placental CRH at 25 weeks was a strong predictor of postpartum depression.  

Since women are already screened for diabetes during pregnancy around that time, the authors suggest that screening for postpartum depression might be added at the 24 to 28 week mark of a pregnancy. 

Postpartum depression affects about 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers. It is reported to be more than just feeling “blue," but a serious illness that interferes with daily living and activities. It is largely treatable.

Depression can run in families and a family history is one factor that may contribute to the illness.

A French study found that women who gave birth to sons had a greater amount of postpartum depression. #

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