Expecting mothers may be more at risk for depression compared to past generations
The latest generation of mothers may be more at risk for developing depression compared to parents in the past.
The discovery comes from a recent study that evaluated pregnant women between 1990 and 1992 and compared them to their own children once they were expecting.
According to the findings published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), approximately 17% of pregnant women reported depression symptoms while pregnant between 1990 and 1992.
More than two decades later, their own children showed significantly higher rates of depression with approximately 25% experiencing depression symptoms.
“The results suggest that prenatal depression is on average 51% more common among young mothers in the current generation […] than during their mothers’ generation 25 years ago,” wrote the researchers.
While the team says the findings provide strong evidence that prenatal depression is on the rise, the reason why is unclear.
As one expert, Rebecca Starck, M.D., explained, the increase could simply be the result of better understanding and awareness of depression, which could lead to an increase in reporting. However, it is equally possible that factors such as less support or fewer researchers for today’s parents – including shorter time for maternity leave – could contribute to wider issues with depression in mothers.
The researchers conceded that they can’t draw concrete explanations for the increased depression rates observed in their study but say the findings can help guide future research. The findings also “highlight the need for increased screening and resources to support young pregnant women,” concluded the team.