BACKGROUND: Postpartum depression is prevalent and concerns a serious health problem for women and their families. The current large-scale birth cohort study investigated: (1) the associations of various potential determinants of postpartum depression using a multidimensional approach, and (2) the individual contribution of obstetric and perinatal determinants and pregnancy-specific anxiety to the risk of postpartum depression.
METHODS: This study was based on a large-scale birth cohort study in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (ABCD-study). In 5109 women depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (cut-off ≥16 indicating high risk of postpartum depression). Determinants were assessed using self-report or perinatal registries.
RESULTS: In the final multivariable model, other-Western and non-Western ethnic background, increased antepartum depressive symptoms, increased antepartum anxiety, increased pregnancy-specific anxiety, being unemployed, poor sleep quality, unwanted pregnancy, abuse, multiparity, and congenital abnormality were all independently related to an increased risk of postpartum depression. The strongest risk factors for postpartum depression were antepartum depressive symptoms (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.86, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.02-4.92), having a baby with a congenital abnormality (AOR = 2.33, 95% CI 1.46-3.73), and abuse (AOR = 1.95, 95% CI 1.02-3.73). The final model accounted for 24.5% of the variance.
LIMITATIONS: Our dataset did not provide information on social support or maternal and family history of depression. Next to these determinants, future research should include biological factors.
CONCLUSIONS: The determinants identified provide opportunities for the development of multidimensional early screening and early intervention strategies for women with an increased risk of postpartum depression.