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Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Jan;159(1):43-7.

Gender, poverty, and postnatal depression: a study of mothers in Goa, India.

Author information

  • 1Sangath Centre for Child Development & Family Guidance, Goa, India. vikpat@goatelecom.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study described the natural history of depression in mothers who recently gave birth in a low-income country and to investigate the effect of risk factors, particularly related to infant gender bias, on the occurrence and outcome of depression.

METHOD:

The authors studied a group of pregnant mothers recruited during their third trimester of pregnancy from a district hospital in Goa, India. The mothers were interviewed at recruitment, 6-8 weeks, and 6 months after childbirth. Interview data included presence of antenatal and postnatal depression, obstetric history, economic and demographic characteristics, and gender-based variables (preference for male infant, presence of marital violence).

RESULTS:

Depressive disorder was detected in 59 (23%) of the mothers at 6-8 weeks after childbirth; 78% of these patients had had clinically substantial psychological morbidity during the antenatal period. More than one-half of the patients remained ill at 6 months after delivery. Economic deprivation and poor marital relationships were important risk factors for the occurrence and chronicity of depression. The gender of the infant was a determinant of postnatal depression; it modified the effect of other risk factors, such as marital violence and hunger. Depressed mothers were more disabled and were more likely to use health services than nondepressed mothers.

CONCLUSIONS:

Maternal and infant health policies, a priority in low-income countries, must integrate maternal depression as a disorder of public health significance. Interventions should target mothers in the antenatal period and incorporate a strong gender-based component.

Comment in

  • Postnatal depression in India. [Am J Psychiatry. 2002]
PMID:
11772688
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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