Washington: According to a recent study, women who give birth to males are 71-79 per cent more likely to develop postnatal depression (PND).
Furthermore, women who went into labour under complications were 174 per cent more likely to experience PND compared to those women who had no complications, according to a study published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine.
Researchers at the University of Kent studied PND and found that the odds of developing this condition increased by 79 per cent when mothers had baby boys compared to baby girls.
As a result of their findings, researchers Dr. Sarah Johns and Dr. Sarah Myers concluded that recognising that both male infants and birth complications are PND risk factors should help health professionals in identifying and supporting women who may be more likely to develop this condition.
Their research also showed that while women with a tendency towards symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress were always at increased risk of PND, they had reduced odds of developing PND after experiencing birth complications. This is likely because these women may receive greater post-birth support because their mental health concerns were previously recognised. This finding suggests intervention to support women can be effective in preventing PND from developing.
Dr. Johns said, “PND is a condition that is avoidable, and it has been shown that giving women at risk extra help and support can make it less likely to develop. The finding that having a baby boy or a difficult birth increases a woman’s risk gives health practitioners two new and easy ways to identify women who would particularly benefit from additional support in the first few weeks and months.”
Both the gestation of male fetuses and the experience of birth complications have documented associations with increased inflammation, yet, until this study, their relationships with PND were unclear.
Many known risk factors for depressive symptoms are associated with activation of inflammatory pathways, opening up the potential for identifying new risk factors based on their inflammation causing effects – an idea supported by this study.