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Health & Pregnancy

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C-Sections Not Linked to Women's Depression

Baby's Delivery Method Doesn't Affect Postpartum Depression, Says Study

Women, Motherhood, and Depression continued...

It's estimated that as many as one in five pregnant women are depressed, but few get help. That's according to a study of more than 3,400 pregnant Michigan women published in the May 2003 Journal of Women's Health.

It's essential to treat depression whenever it strikes. A wide range of help is available, including medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Mental health is within reach and professional help is available for anyone with depression, whether or not they're pregnant or mothers.

Depression doesn't just hurt women's well-being. It can also affect their children.

"Infants of depressed mothers have been found to perform less well on object concept tasks and be more insecurely attached to their mothers," write Patel and colleagues. They also list other potential problems for the kids of depressed moms, including "higher rates of intellectual deficits at 4 years of age, behavioral disturbances up to 5 years, and increased rates of special education needs at 11 years."

Other studies have tracked the dangers of depression during pregnancy. Depressed pregnant women have been found to be more likely to have premature babies and lower-birth-weight babies. They may also be more likely to have complications such as preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related condition that causes high blood pressure and affects the mother's kidneys, liver, brain, and placenta.

The study suggests that pregnant women don't have to worry that the way their baby is delivered could increase postpartum depression risk. But mothers-to-be and new moms owe it to themselves and their families to notice and treat depression whenever it surfaces.

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