postpartum depression researchHerewith, the latest news and research on postpartum depression:

Stress in pregnant mothers is linked to postpartum depression – A study recently presented at Neuroscience found that chronic stress in pregnancy blocks the brain benefits of motherhood. In rats. Stressed out pregnant rats had less cognitive function and ability to multitask compared to the chillaxed, no stress rats. The stressed rats also showed less interaction with their babies. Lead researcher Benedetta Leuner of Ohio State University explained to ScienceBlog that pregnant women who are chronically stressed may be more likely to get postpartum depression. “It’s devastating not only for the mother, because it affects her well-being, but previous research also has shown that children of depressed mothers have impaired cognitive and social development, may have impaired physical development, and are more likely as adults to have depression or anxiety,” she said. “A better understanding of postpartum depression is important to help the mother but also to prevent some of the damaging effects that this disorder can have on the child.” So, the ultimate question here is whether reducing or eliminating stress during pregnancy could prevent postpartum depression in some women.

Language development is accelerated in babies whose moms are on antidepressants during pregnancy – A small study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that children whose moms took antidepressants during pregnancy were actually developing language skills faster than those who moms had untreated depression during pregnancy, whose language development appeared delayed.

Postpartum depression screening mandates don’t work without clarity – The MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health reviews a study conducted in Australia of their National Perinatal Depression Initiative (NPDI), which mandated screening for postpartum (or postnatal) depression. In the two years since NPDI was implemented, there are still problems. Screeners are receiving very little training, and barriers to actually conducting the screens remain, including lack of time, lack of clarity and lack of referral resources.

And yet …

Postpartum depression improves with screening and follow-up care — The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine this summer found that women who were screened and treated for PPD by family practices using an intervention process called TRIPPD ended up being more likely to receive and follow through with treatment and to have lower levels of PPD symptoms. If your practice would like to follow the TRIPPD intervention process, you can access the full online toolkit — including screening tools, treatment guides and follow up sheets — for free here.

Risk factors for postpartum depression — are they or aren’t they? — On any given week research comes out confirming or denying various things as risk factors for PPD. I’ve seen many a study that says perfectionism is definitely one of them. This study, of 386 women published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health, says it isn’t.

This study, from the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, confirms that socioeconomic factors like low income and unemployment are risk factors for PPD.