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Women who give birth in winter less prone to postnatal depression, study finds

Women who give birth in winter or spring are less likely to suffer the “baby blues” than at other times of year, a study has shown

 

Other factors affecting the risk of postpartum depression (PPD) included giving birth after a longer pregnancy, having an epidural during delivery, and body mass index (BMI).

At least 10% of women experience some degree of anxiety or depression after giving birth.

Symptoms include sadness, restlessness, and lack of concentration. PPD typically arises from a combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustments to motherhood, and fatigue, said US researchers.

Dr Jie Zhou, from Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, said: “We wanted to find out whether there are certain factors influencing the risk of developing postpartum depression that may be avoided to improve women’s health both physically and mentally.”

The team reviewed the medical records of 20,169 women who delivered babies between June 2015 and August 2017. Of the total, 817 (4.1%) suffered from PPD.

Why giving birth in winter or spring should have a positive effect is not known but could be linked to the “seasonal enjoyment of indoor activities mothers experience with newborns”, said the researchers.

The study also found that a longer pregnancy reduced the risk of PPD while not having an epidural anaesthetic during delivery increased it.

Caucasian women were less likely to experience PPD than women of other races, the research showed. Delivery mode had no effect.

The findings were presented at the Anesthesiology 2017 annual meeting in Boston.

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