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Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

According to a recent New York Times article (12/8, D6 http://tinyurl.com/depressed-dads) up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression.  But it turns out that men can also have postpartum depression.  4 percent of fathers have clinically significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the birth of their children.  A 2006 study on marmoset monkeys, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reported that new fathers experienced a rapid increase in receptors for the hormone vasopressin in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Along with other hormones, vasopressin is involved in parental behavior in animals, and it is known that the same brain area in humans is activated when parents are shown pictures of their children.  There is also some evidence that testosterone levels tend to drop in men during their partner’s pregnancy, perhaps to make expectant fathers less aggressive and more likely to bond with their newborns.  Given the known association between depression and low testosterone in middle-aged men, it is possible that this might also put some men at risk of postpartum depression.  By far the strongest predictor of paternal postpartum depression is having a depressed partner.  In one study, fathers whose partners were also depressed were at nearly two and a half times the normal risk for depression.

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HealthDay (http://tinyurl.com/MS-and-pregnancy 11/24, Thomas) reported that  Belgium scientists  say that “having children may slow the progression of multiple sclerosis.” Specifically, “women who had given birth to at least one child were 34 percent less likely to have the disease progress to a stage in which they needed walking assistance, such as a cane or brace, than women without children.” Those “who had a child after they began experiencing MS symptoms were even better off,” according to the paper published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

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postpartum_depressionSharma et al published an article online Oct. 17 in the Journal of Affective Disorder(doi:10.1016/j.jad.2009.09.014) discussing the fact that bipolar II disorder may be underdiagnosed in postpartum women or misdiagnosed as unipolar depression.  After conducting a literature search “for relevant articles published between 1998 and 2009,” Canadian researchers found that “estimates of the prevalence of hypomania in non-clinical populations ranged from 9.6 percent to 20.4 percent on day three postpartum.” Moreover, nearly “20 percent of patients with hypomanic symptoms at day three postpartum developed postpartum depression in one study, with a significant proportion diagnosed with bipolar II disorder or bipolar disorder not otherwise specified.”

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flu vaccineThe Los Angeles Times (http://tinyurl.com/flushotanddepression 10/28, Maugh) “Booster Shots” blog reported that, according to a study published Oct. 28 in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, “depressed pregnant women respond more strongly to the seasonal flu vaccine, producing higher levels of potentially damaging cytokines — a finding that could help explain why pregnant women have about six times the normal risk of hospitalization and complications from pandemic H1N1 influenza.” Ohio State University researchers recruited “22 pregnant women” who “filled out a questionnaire about their depression symptoms and gave a blood sample before being immunized against seasonal flu,” then gave “a second blood sample…six to nine days later.”   The investigators then discovered that “women who scored highest on the depression scale had roughly twice as much” macrophage migration inhibitory factor “in their blood as women who scored the lowest, meaning their bodies mounted a greater inflammatory response to the vaccine,” the Time (10/28, Guthrie) “Wellness” blog reported. The authors explained that depression and pregnancy deliver “a one-two punch to the immune system,” because pregnancy dampens the “immune system to protect the fetus,” and “major depression hobbles the immune system by putting chronic, low-grade stress on the body.”

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pregnant_woman_smokingBBC News (10/1) reports that, according to research published in the Oct. issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, women “who smoke during pregnancy put their children at greater risk of psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations.” Researchers from the UK’s Cardiff, Nottingham, Bristol, and Warwick universities found that children “whose mothers had smoked were 20 percent more likely to suffer such problems.” Notably, “the link was 84 percent more pronounced if 20 or more cigarettes a day were smoked.” The investigators “suggested tobacco exposure in the womb may affect the child’s brain development.”

       

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postpartum_depressionHealthDay (9/23, Dotinga) reported that researchers from Spain’s Polytechnic University of Valencia claim to have “developed ways to detect 80 percent of cases of postpartum depression.” The team “examined records on 1,397 Spanish women who gave birth in an 11-month span in seven hospitals,” then “devised several models” to “predict whether a woman will develop depression within a few weeks after giving birth.” The investigators did so by “examining risk factors that are linked to postnatal depression, including previous psychiatric problems in the family, the level of social support for the mother, and the state of genes connected to the condition.”

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pregnancyFollowing a Wall Street Journal article, the Los Angeles Times (9/18, Healy) reports that the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “have issued the first guidelines for the treatment of depression during pregnancy.” The groups say that “for women with serious, recurring depression or suicidal inclinations, the dangers of under-treatment may well outweigh the risks that antidepressants may pose to a developing fetus. At the same time, the guidelines stress that for many pregnant women suffering from depression, ‘talk therapy’ alone may be the best option, and should be routinely offered.”

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ppMedscape (7/8) reported that, according to a study published in the July issue of Sleep, “poor sleep is linked to postpartum depression independently of other risk factors.” For the study, researchers from Norway’s Stavanger University Hospital sought to “assess the prevalence of and risk factors for concurrent postpartum maternal sleep problems and depressive symptoms, to identify factors independently associated with either condition, and to examine associations between specific components of postpartum sleep and depression.” They did so by mailing “a questionnaire seven weeks after delivery” to “a total of 4,191 women” who “delivered at Stavanger University Hospital” from Oct. 2005 to Sept. 2006. The investigators found that “the prevalence of sleep problems was 57.7 percent, and the prevalence of depression was 16.5 percent.” Specific “factors associated with poor postpartum sleep quality were depression, history of sleep problems, primiparity, not exclusively breast-feeding, or having a younger or male infant.” Overall, “the aspects of sleep most strongly associated with depression were sleep disturbances and subjective sleep quality.”

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MedWire (5/27, Grasmo) reports that, according to a study published online May 8 in the journal Bipolar Disorders, “hypomanic symptoms are common in the postpartum period and are significantly increased from” prenatal “rates in the general population.” For the study, researchers from the UK’s University of Birmingham “recruited 446 women at 12 weeks of pregnancy who were then asked to complete the Highs Scale and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at baseline, one week, and eight weeks postpartum.” The investigators found that “hypomanic symptoms were significantly increased in the early postpartum period, with the number of cases of ‘the highs’ higher in the immediate postpartum period, compared with pregnancy and eight weeks postpartum (11.7 vs. 1.4 and 4.9, respectively).” The authors concluded that the “perinatal period is likely a period of high risk for specific groups of women, particularly those with a previous psychiatric history.”

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