Support Reduces Depression Risk in New Mothers

Article excerpt

MONTREAL -- Mother-to-mother support can significantly reduce the development of postpartum depression in women who are at high risk for the condition, Cindy-Lee Dennis, Ph.D., said at the annual conference of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

"Meta-analyses and predictive studies have clearly suggested the importance of psychosocial variables in the development of postpartum depression," said Dr. Dennis of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto.

Her study involved 701 women who were less than 2 weeks post partum and considered to be at high risk for developing postpartum depression based on an Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score of greater than 9.

The women were randomized to a control group (n=352), which received usual postpartum care, or an intervention group (n=349) that received usual postpartum care plus telephone peer support. A total of 205 peer support volunteers, all of whom had recovered from self-reported postpartum depression, were recruited from the community. They were given a 4-hour training session and then matched to the new mothers based on health, region, and, if the mother desired, on ethnicity.

For the primary outcome measure, an EPDS score of greater than 12, the study found a significant benefit to peer support. …