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Research confirms need for early intervention with expecting mums

Last Updated: Tuesday, 09 February 2016 11:40

Feb 1st 2016

New research from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) has reaffirmed the link between previous mental illness and an increased risk of developing postnatal depression in new mothers. The study, which followed 5219 women between 1996 and 2009, found that women who had a history of depression were one and a half times more likely to experience postnatal depression.

Dr Catherine Chojenta initially expected to find other factors to be strong contributors.

"Age, income, education, marital status, and area of residence have all been suggested as potential risk factors in postnatal depression," Dr Chojenta said.

"These factors did not emerge as significant factors in our research, which was the first to examine a comprehensive set of risk factors based on long-term population-level data."

This research supports the need for effective monitoring and screening for perinatal anxiety and depression in all expecting and new mothers, but particularly those with a history of mental illness.

"We can try and break this cycle across the life course, and make motherhood as positive an experience as possible."

PANDA CEO Terri Smith welcomes the new research.

“PANDA supports routine perinatal anxiety and depression screening and welcomes all strategic and coordinated efforts to address the psychological health of women and men in the perinatal period. We understand that screening is one early intervention approach of many required to create awareness and reduce the stigma of perinatal anxiety and depression” she said. 

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