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    You are here: Home > Pharmacy News | Health Articles/Tips > Health News > September 13, 2010

      New Parents at Risk for Depression


      Both mothers and fathers face an increased risk of depression after the birth of a child, and remain at some increased risk well into a child’s adolescence, a new British study shows.

      The research, which tracked nearly 87,000 families in the United Kingdom between 1993 and 2007, found the highest risk for depression occurred in the first year after a child’s birth.

      Over all, 39 percent of mothers and 21 percent of fathers had experienced an episode of depression during the first 12 years of their child’s life. After the first year of parenting, a mother’s risk for depression dropped by half, while experienced fathers faced only about a quarter of the depression risk compared with new fathers. Although depression risk for both parents dropped considerably in the second year, it remained steady through a child’s 12th year. (No data were collected from families with older children.)

      Parents who had an earlier history of depression, who had children at a relatively young age or who had lower incomes were at highest risk for a depressive episode during their parenting years, according to the study, published online in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

      Although the study wasn’t designed to determine the causes of the higher depression rates among parents, researchers speculated that several potential triggers could occur because of the everyday demands of parenting.

      “We can hypothesize based on existing knowledge that the arrival of a newborn baby is stressful for both parents on account of lack of sleep, change in their responsibilities and the demands made on the couple’s relationship,” Irwin Nazareth, a study co-author from the Medical Research Council in London, said in an e-mail.

      The study didn’t make direct comparisons between parents and those without children, but the incidence rates of depression among parents in the study were higher than those reported for the general population from the same database, Dr. Nazareth said.

      “Hence we can indirectly conclude that the incidence of depression in parents is higher than in the general population,” he said.

      In the past, most studies of depression after childbirth have focused on mothers. However, the new data show that depression among new fathers is also common, suggesting that prenatal programs and doctors should focus on depression risk in both parents.

      “The U.K. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends routine screening for depression among postnatal mothers; however, no such policy exists for fathers,” the study authors wrote. “There is a need for appropriate detection of depression among fathers.”

      Sep 13, 2010


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