Multiple Births Up Depression Risk


By Cile Waller

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Having more than one baby at a time puts new moms at significantly higher risk for postpartum depression.

That’s the key finding from Johns Hopkins researchers who looked at data from a nationally representative sample of children born in 2001. Compared to mothers of single babies, mothers of multiples had a 43 percent increased risk of developing moderate to severe depression.

Certain factors made it more likely a woman would succumb to depression after giving birth to more than one child, including a history of hospitalization for a mental disorder, a history of alcohol or drug abuse, and non-Hispanic black race.

Mothers less likely to suffer from depression were married, Hispanic or had a higher socioeconomic status.

The researchers were especially concerned to learn these new moms were not getting the kind of care they need to deal with depressive symptoms. Overall, just 27 percent said they’d spoken to a mental health specialist about their postpartum depression.

Study author Cynthia Minkovitz, M.D., M.P.P., suggests pediatricians should do more to spot these problems and refer these new moms to someone who can help. “Pediatric practices should make an additional effort to educate new and expecting parents of multiples regarding their increased risk for maternal postpartum depression,” she was quoted as saying. “Furthermore, well-child visits are potentially valuable opportunities to provide education, screening and referrals for postpartum depression among mothers of multiples.”

SOURCE: Pediatrics, published online March 30, 2009

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