October 23, 2008 (Oakland, Calif.) - Depressed pregnant women have twice the risk of preterm delivery than pregnant women with no symptoms of depression, according to a new study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. The study is published online in the Oxford University Press’s journal Human Reproduction on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
The study found that pregnant women with symptoms of depression have an
increased risk of preterm delivery, and that the risk grows with the
severity of the depressive symptoms. These findings also provide
preliminary evidence that social and reproductive risk factors, obesity,
and stressful events may exacerbate the depression-preterm delivery
link, according to the researchers.
Because the majority of the women in the study did not use
anti-depressants, the study provides a clear look at the link between
depression and preterm delivery.
The study -- which is among the first to examine depression and pre-term
delivery in a representative and diverse population in the United
States -- looked at 791 pregnant Kaiser Permanente members in San
Francisco city and county from October 1996 through October 1998.
Researchers interviewed the women around their 10th week of pregnancy
and found that 41 percent of the women reported significant or severe
depressive symptoms. The women with less severe depressive symptoms had a
60 percent higher risk of preterm delivery -- defined as delivery at
less than 37 completed weeks of gestation -- compared with women without
significant depressive symptoms, and the women with severe depressive
symptoms had more than twice the risk.