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December 6, 2006

Postpartum Depression: A Major Public Health Problem

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Wisner and Sit), Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences (Dr Wisner), Epidemiology (Dr Wisner), and Women's Studies (Dr Wisner), Women's Behavioral HealthCARE, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pa; and Departments of Pediatrics and Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego (Dr Chambers).

JAMA. 2006;296(21):2616-2618. doi:10.1001/jama.296.21.2616

Postpartum psychiatric disorders, particularly depression, have received increasing attention in the United States for several reasons. Postpartum depression is very common. One of 7 new mothers (14.5%) experience depressive episodes that impair maternal role function.1 The neurobiology of women with postpartum mood instability appears differentially sensitive to the destabilizing effects of hormonal withdrawal at birth.2 Coupled with entry of the newborn into the family, postpartum depression affects crucial infant and adult developmental processes. The disruption to the early mother-infant relationship contributes to short- and long-term adverse child outcomes.3 The negative effects of maternal depression on children include an increased risk of impaired mental and motor development, difficult temperament, poor self-regulation, low self-esteem, and behavior problems.4