Recent study finds postpartum depression can last up to 3 years for mothers

Local News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A recent study conducted by the University at Albany and partners found that a mother’s postpartum depression can reportedly last for a full three years after the birth of their baby and, in some cases, get worse over time.

The study reportedly looked at 4,866 mothers from Upstate KIDS, an ongoing cohort-based study led by Erin Bell, an environmental health sciences and epidemiology professor at UAlbany.

The University says the study consisted of Bell and her team conducting assessments of depressive symptoms at 4, 12, 24 and 36 months postpartum while demographic and perinatal conditions were gathered from vital records and maternal reports.

Published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the study found that 1/4 of mothers reportedly had elevated depressive symptoms in the three years after the birth of their babies. Additionally, young mothers without college education and those with gestational diabetes were found to be at a higher risk for depressive symptoms.

Bell notes that the results highlight the need for maternal depression screening beyond the postpartum period. 

“If screening for depression happens only once, or happens too early after delivery, we may be missing a large percentage of mothers who develop depression,” she said. “Assessing mothers multiple times early and late in the postpartum period — and extending the postpartum period to at least two years after birth — would provide a clearer picture of mothers whose symptoms are persisting or increasing so caregivers may connect them with the appropriate resources for support.” 

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