depression and pregnancyQuality of life, for pregnant women and new mothers, can be affected by depression. Research also points to negative side effects on newborn growth and development when depression is an issue for new mothers. Intervention can help ease the side effects and improve quality of life, but medical professionals need to establish risk factors for depression to effectively predict women at higher risk of depression. Socioeconomic status may be one factor of importance.

For the sake of the study, women were evaluated in the third trimester, shortly after giving birth and up to eight months after giving birth. A German equivalent of the EPDS (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) was used to collect data. The scores resulting from the questionnaires were compared with socioeconomic status.

Among the contributing factors for increased risk of depression was socioeconomic status, education, income, housing status and relationship status. While each of these factors posed an independent risk, researchers also found increased risk when two or more factors were evaluated. The highest risk for maternal depression was associated with relationship status. Women who did not express an intact relationship were most likely to suffer from depression.

Conclusion: Socioeconomic status does play a part in risk of maternal depression, but relationship status poses a greater risk. Doctors can use patient interviews during prenatal and postnatal care to determine relationship status as a means of predicting risk of maternal depression during and after pregnancy.

Source: Alexander Hein, Claudia Rauh, Anne Engel, Lothar Häberle, Ulf Dammer, Franziska Voigt, Peter A. Fasching, Florian Faschingbauer, Pascal Burger, Matthias W. Beckmann, Johannes Kornhuber, Tamme W. Goecke. Socioeconomic status and depression during and after pregnancy in the Franconian Maternal Health Evaluation Studies (FRAMES). Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics. October 2013. DOI: 10.1007/s00404-013-3046-y.