Friday, May 21, 2010

Postpartum Depression Fathers

There was an interesting study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that looked at depression in men during the prenatal or postpartum period. The intriguing finding by the researchers was that postpartum depression occurs in men at rates similar to postpartum depression in women. I would not have expected that.

The study does have some significant limitations, however. It is a retrospective study which is essentially a chart review looking back. It also is a meta - analysis which is not doing a study directly but looking at the findings of a number of studies to assess common findings. So this type of study is of interest but ongoing prospective studies need to be done to confirm that the correlation looked at does truly exist.

They looked at 43 studies from 16 different countries (17 in the United States and 26international). The analysis included information from 28,004 fathers over the age of 18, most of whom were first time parents. The overall meta - estimate was that the rate of paternal depression between the first trimester and 1 year postpartum is 10.4%. The 12-month prevalence for men in the general population is 4.8%. They were not able to look at any correlation between maternal and paternal depression which will be very important to know.

The research team is now recruiting participants for a new National Institute of Health funded study that will evaluate in real time mothers and fathers from the first trimester of pregnancy through 6 months postpartum. In the meantime it probably is a good idea to ask fathers about depression, (particularly in the 3-6 month period when the rates were as high as 25.6%) as well as mothers.

Thought for the day

I learn something new everyday.

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