Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
September 20, 2021
2 min read

Childhood trauma increases depressive episode risk during perinatal period

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Childhood trauma appeared linked to a depressive episode during the perinatal period in adulthood, according to study results published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

“In a study by Robertson-Blackmore [and colleagues], women with three or more [childhood traumas] reported a fourfold risk of depression during pregnancy compared to women without [childhood trauma],” Sarah Tebeka, MD, PhD, of the Institute of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the University of Paris, and colleagues wrote. “However, subsequent studies yielded conflicting findings, with some studies failing to find this association.

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“On the other hand, there also are contradictory data regarding the impact of [childhood trauma] on postpartum depression,” the authors continued, “with some studies showing an association between [childhood trauma] and postpartum depression but others not showing this association.”

To shed light on this uncertainty, the investigators conducted the current intracohort case-control association study to evaluate whether childhood trauma correlated with perinatal depression, with consideration for different trauma types. They analyzed data of 3,252 women who completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire at a maternity department between November 2011 and June 2016 as part of a French multicenter prospective cohort study. Participants underwent retrospective assessment at the maternity department using DSM-5 criteria, as well as early- and late-onset postpartum depression assessments at 2 months and 1 year postpartum, respectively.

A total of 9.2% of participants reported one or more childhood traumas. Those with childhood trauma had increased risk for depression (OR = 2.2; 95% CI, 1.7-2.7), anxiety (OR = 2.3; 95% CI, 1.7-3) and suicide attempts (OR = 5.4; 95% CI, 3.5-8.4) compared with women without childhood trauma. Moreover, women with childhood trauma more frequently had perinatal depression than those without it, after the researchers adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and personal history of major depressive episode and consideration of the timing of onset. Tebeka and colleagues noted a dose effect between the number of childhood trauma types and the risk for perinatal depression.

“Our results may lead to special prenatal care for women abused or neglected during childhood to better screen and treat perinatal depression,” the researchers wrote. “Indeed, our results support the benefit of a systematic evaluation of [childhood traumas] at the beginning of pregnancy, which would aid in the identification of women at higher risk of developing depression in the perinatal period, allowing for appropriate care and reducing the negative impact of depression.”