Depression in Mom or Dad Increases Risk of Premature Baby


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Having a mother or father who is depressed increases the risk of preterm birth, a new study has found.

Swedish researchers used data on 366,499 singleton births, and assessed whether parents had been given a diagnosis of depression or filled a prescription for antidepressant drugs between a year before conception and the end of the second trimester.

Among mothers, a “new” diagnosis of depression, defined as getting a depression diagnosis after a year without one, was associated with a 34 percent increased risk of moderately preterm birth (32 to 36 weeks’ gestation). Recurrent maternal depression was associated with a 42 percent increased risk.

Recurrent paternal depression was not associated with preterm birth. But new paternal depression increased the risk for moderately preterm birth slightly and the risk for very preterm birth (22 to 31 weeks’ gestation) by 38 percent. Thestudy, in BJOG, controlled for maternal depression, parents’ age, smoking and other factors.

“The message — and it might be self-evident — is that fathers are also important,” said the senior author, Dr. Anders Hjern, an epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institute. “Having a mentally healthy and supportive father who can provide a favorable environment for his partner is also good for the baby. And maternity care interventions should also include the father. Sometimes the father is forgotten.”



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