Study reveals 10% poor pregnant women in Bengaluru are depressed

Nearly 10% of pregnant women from a poor social-economic background in Bengaluru suffer from depression before a childbirth, predominantly because of her partner's lack of livelihood choice, says a new study. File photo

Nearly 10% of pregnant women from a poor socio-economic background in Bengaluru suffer from depression before childbirth, predominantly because of her partner's lack of livelihood choice, says a new study.

In addition, husband's education, occupation and total family income are other triggers for their depressive behaviour that manifests mostly in the third trimester of the pregnancy, according to the research that set out to explore the link between the mental status of the mother and the health of the newborn.

Ante-natal depression is increasingly being recognised as an emerging area of concern because pregnant women with symptoms suggestive of depression can have a sudden exacerbation of existing medical disorders.

Poor mental health in pregnancy may lead to adverse outcomes such as physical defects, low-birth weight, emotional problems, preterm birth and postnatal depression. Past studies also attribute the association of behavioural, cognitive, and linguistic problems in children born to mothers suffering from depressive symptoms.

In the absence of a large body of clinical evidence on ante-natal depression from India, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and University of Nottingham have launched a project to analyse the mental health of 5,000 women and follow them as well as their children for the next 5 years.

As a pilot, the researchers carried out a smaller study with 823 women who visited two corporation hospitals in Bengaluru between November 2013 and June 2015. The results show 8.7% of the women exhibited symptoms of antenatal depression.

“The symptoms (of depression) mostly appear in the 3rd trimester when they start planning for the delivery,” principal investigator Giridhara R Babu at IIPM told DH.

In addition, women older than 25 years and those with unemployed husbands and a household income less than Rs 10,000 were at higher risk of mental distress, the researchers reported in the May 2 issue of the journal Frontiers in Public Health.

Also, women with anaemia and hypertension as well as those who are experiencing pregnancy for the first time have greater odds to develop symptoms of depression.

“Our aim is to find out if there is a case to consider routine mental health screening during the pregnancy check-up. We would also see whether there is any link between a mother's mental health status with low birth weight and other adverse effects in kids,” Babu said.

There are not many studies from India exploring such a link. A 2012 study conducted on 5,800 mothers in Jharkhand and Odisha showed more than 11% mothers showed signs of distress that was linked to high maternal age, low asset ownership and health problems before and after the pregnancy.

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Study reveals 10% poor pregnant women in Bengaluru are depressed

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