Postpartum depression risk, duration and recurrence

Postpartum affective disorder (AD), including postpartum depression (PPD), affects more than one in two hundred women with no history of prior psychiatric episodes, and raises the risk of later affective disorder for those women, according to a new study published in PLOS Medicine by Marie-Louise Rasmussen from Statens Serum Institut, Denmark, and colleagues.

PPD is estimated to affect more than 5 percent of all women following childbirth, making it the most common postnatal complication of childbearing. In the new study, researchers analyzed data from the Danish national registries on 457,317 women who had a first child (and subsequent births) between 1996 and 2013 and had no prior psychiatric hospital contacts or use of antidepressants. Postpartum AD was defined as an antidepressant prescription fill or hospital contact for depression within six months after birth.

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Family factors may influence a child’s temperament

A new study indicates that a child’s temperament may be influenced by maternal postpartum depression, maternal sensitivity, and family functioning. Maternal depression was associated with difficult temperaments in infants when maternal sensitivity was low, but not when maternal sensitivity was high. Family functioning similarly moderated these links.

The findings suggest that family factors play a critical role in shaping the trajectory of an infant’s behavioral style as it unfolds over development.

Full story of family factors within a child’s temperament at Science Daily

Clinical trial evaluating potential treatment for postpartum depression

Researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine announced the publication of results from a multi-site phase 2 clinical trial with brexanolone, an investigational medication, in the treatment of severe postpartum depression (PPD).

Currently, there are no drugs specifically indicated to treat postpartum depression, which affects an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all mothers who give birth, according to Samantha Meltzer-Brody, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the UNC School of Medicine, and academic principal investigator and senior author of the study published in The Lancet. Steve Kanes, M.D. Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer of Sage Therapeutics, is the lead author of the paper.

Postpartum depression is a mood disorder in women that can be triggered in some women by fluctuations in reproductive hormones. Common symptoms in mothers that experience PPD include low mood, feeling overwhelmed, anxious and ruminating thoughts, potential withdrawal from the baby and her family, and, in the most severe cases, suicidal thoughts.

Full story of potential treatment for postpartum depression at Science Daily

What Effect Does Prenatal and Postpartum Maternal Depression Have on Children?

The results of a large study do not support the notion that prenatal and postpartum maternal depression is particularly detrimental to children’s psychological development. Instead, the most robust effects were found for maternal depression occurring during children’s preschool years.

The analysis examined 11,599 families including 17,830 siblings from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study. Using sibling comparisons, investigators accounted for genetic and shared environmental factors, as siblings share family environments and their mothers’ genetic risk for depression.

Full story of maternal depression’s effect on children at Science Daily

Postpartum psychosis big risk for mothers with bipolar disorder

Pregnant women with bipolar disorder and their families and physicians should be aware of a significantly higher risk for developing postpartum psychosis, according to a new Northwestern Medicine review of literature on the rare and under-researched disorder.

Postpartum psychosis almost always stems from bipolar disorder but is often missed because of its rarity and lack of research on the subject, according to the review from Northwestern Medicine, Stanford University and Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Compounding the problem, physicians are reluctant to prescribe lithium for breastfeeding women for fear that the drug will negatively impact the baby. However, a small number of lithium-treated mothers and breastfed babies have been studied and the infants had no adverse effects with careful followup, Wisner said. Lithium is the most effective and fast-acting drug to treat postpartum psychosis.

Full story of postpartum risk for mothers with bipolar disorder at Science Daily

Text messages a good way to support mothers with postpartum depression

A Saint Louis University research paper published online March 16 in JMIR Mental Health explores the feasibility of helping low-income mothers through postpartum depression using text messages.

Corresponding author Matthew A. Broom, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University and SLUCare physician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, formed the Happy Mothers, Healthy Families program in 2013 with a three-year, $316,140 grant from the Maternal Child and Family Health Coalition (MCHFC).

Other authors include Amy S. Ladley, Ph.D. and Elizabeth A. Rhyne, R.N. CPNP, of SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and the Saint Louis University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, and Donna R. Halloran, M.D., MSPH, associate professor of pediatrics at SLU and a SLUCare physician at Cardinal Glennon.

Full story of texting and supporting mothers with postpartum depression at Science Daily

Monoamine oxidase A: Biomarker for postpartum depression

Many women suffer from baby blues after giving birth. Some even develop full-blown postpartum depression in the weeks that follow. Monoamine oxidase A, an enzyme responsible for the breakdown of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, plays an important role in this condition. In comparison to healthy women, women who experience postpartum depression present strongly elevated levels of the enzyme in their brains. This was discovered by a Canadian-German research team including Julia Sacher from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. Their findings could help in the prevention of postpartum depression and in the development of new drugs for its treatment.

For most women, the birth of their baby is one of the most strenuous but also happiest days in their lives. However, joy and happiness are often followed by fatigue and exhaustion. The vast majority of women experience a temporary drop in mood for a few days after birth. These symptoms of “baby blues” are not an illness; however, in some cases they can represent early signs of an imminent episode of depression: in 13 percent of mothers, the emotional turmoil experienced after childbirth leads to the development of a full-blown postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is harmful not only to the mother, but also to the baby. It is difficult to treat this condition effectively, as its precise neurobiological causes have remained unidentified to date.