Screening for postpartum depression in well-child care was associated with lower rates of depression and improvements in parenting, anxiety and mental health functioning when compared with usual care, concluded new data.
“Postpartum depression is a common complication after childbirth, with a 7.1% period prevalence of major depression until 3 months postpartum,” Angarath I. van der Zee-van den Berg, MD, of the University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands, and fellow researchers wrote. “Early detection, support and treatment can promote fast recovery of the mother and may reduce the effects of postpartum depression on the child’s development, but postpartum depression symptoms frequently remain unaddressed.”
To determine the efficacy of screening for postpartum depression in well-child care vs. care as usual, researchers conducted a prospective, quasiexperimental, comparative design study of mothers visiting Dutch well-child care centers. Study participants were exposed to screening at 1, 3 and 6 months postpartum (n = 1,843) or care as usual (n = 1,246). Assessments occurred at 3 weeks (baseline), 9 months and 12 months.
At 9 months postpartum, 0.6% of mothers who received screening had major depression vs. 2.5% of mothers who received care as usual (adjusted OR = 0.28; 95% CI, 0.12-0.63).
Three percent of mothers who received screening met criteria for minor and major depression compared with 8.4% of mothers who received care as usual (aOR = 0.4; 95% CI, 0.27-0.58).
Effect sizes for parenting, anxiety symptoms and mental health functioning ranged from 0.23 to 0.27 for mothers who received screening.
Screening had a negligible effect on children’s socioemotional development, according to researchers.
“In this study, screening for postpartum depression in [well-child care] resulted in the improvement of both maternal depressive symptoms and overall mental health and parenting. This promising finding warrants wider implementation of screening for postpartum depression,” the researchers concluded. – by Amanda Oldt
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.