Obesity Linked to Postpartum Depression Risk

By Wendling, Patrice | Clinical Psychiatry News, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Obesity Linked to Postpartum Depression Risk


Wendling, Patrice, Clinical Psychiatry News


DALLAS -- Obese women may be at increased risk for postpartum depression, new research suggests.

In a prospective analysis of 1,282 women who gave birth to singleton infants at term, nearly 30% of women with a prepregnancy body mass index of 30 or more screened positive for postpartum depression 8 weeks after delivery.

The study is the first to use a validated screening tool to evaluate the risk of postpartum depression (PPD) by maternal BMI strata, according to the researchers, who used a score of 12 or more on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screen to define a positive PPD screen.

Women at the extremes of BMI and those with greater weight gains in pregnancy were also at increased risk for PPD, Dr. Yvette LaCoursiere and colleagues at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, reported in a poster at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

A positive PPD screen was reported in 18.7% of underweight women (BMI below 18.5), 12.7% of normal-weight (BMI 18.5-24.9), 15.9% of overweight women (BMI 25-29.9), 17.6% with class I obesity (BMI 30-34.9), 28% with class II obesity (BMI 35-39.9), and 29.4% with class III obesity (BMI greater than or equal to 40). The number of women in each BMI stratum was: 115, 724, 256, 116, 43, and 31, respectively, with incomplete data available on three.

BMI remained a risk factor for PPD even after the researchers controlled for maternal age (mean 27 years), race (86% white, 9% Hispanic), parity (two children), education (mean 14 years), and stressors including financial, traumatic, partner associated, and emotional.

"We're not screening women aggressively for postpartum depression, in general," Dr. LaCoursiere said in an interview. "When I look at how this changed my practice, if I have women who are obese before delivery I have them come back at a 2-week visit and make sure they get a screening test because they have a very high chance of developing depression."

Weight gain during pregnancy also influenced a woman's chance of becoming depressed. A positive PPD screen was observed for 9.6% of normal-weight women who gained 24 pounds or less, 11% of those who gained 25-34 pounds, and 16% of those who gained more than 35 pounds. …

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