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J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 Apr;74(4):e321-41. doi: 10.4088/JCP.12r07968.

The impact of maternal depression during pregnancy on perinatal outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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  • 1Women's Mood and Anxiety Clinic: Reproductive Transitions, Department of Psychiatry, FG 29, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada.



Depression often remains undertreated during pregnancy and there is growing evidence that untoward perinatal outcomes can result. Our systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to determine whether maternal depression during pregnancy is associated with adverse perinatal and infant outcomes.


MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PsycINFO were searched from their start dates to June 2010. Keywords utilized included depressive/mood disorder, postpartum/postnatal, pregnancy/pregnancy trimesters, prenatal or antenatal, infant/neonatal outcomes, premature delivery, gestational age, birth weight, NICU, preeclampsia, breastfeeding, and Apgar.


English language studies reporting on perinatal or child outcomes associated with maternal depression were included, 3,074 abstracts were reviewed, 735 articles retrieved, and 30 studies included.


Two independent reviewers extracted data and assessed article quality. All studies were included in the primary analyses, and between-group differences for subanalyses are also reported.


Thirty studies were eligible for inclusion. Premature delivery and decrease in breastfeeding initiation were significantly associated with maternal depression (odds ratio [OR] = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.81; P = .024; and OR = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.61 to 0.76; P < .0001, respectively). While birth weight (mean difference = -19.53 g; 95% CI, -64.27 to 25.20; P = .392), low birth weight (OR = 1.21; 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.60; P = .195), neonatal intensive care unit admissions (OR = 1.43; 95% CI, 0.83 to 2.47; P = .195), and preeclampsia (OR = 1.35; 95% CI, 0.95 to 1.92; P = .089) did not show significant associations in the main analyses, some subanalyses were significant. Gestational age (mean difference = -0.19 weeks; 95% CI, -0.53 to 0.14; P = .262) and Apgar scores at 1 (mean difference = -0.05; 95% CI, -0.28 to 0.17; P = .638) and 5 minutes (mean difference = 0.01; 95% CI, -0.08 to 0.11; P = .782) did not demonstrate any significant associations with depression. For premature delivery, a convenience sample study design was associated with higher ORs (OR = 2.43; 95% CI, 1.47 to 4.01; P = .001).


Maternal depression during pregnancy is associated with increased odds for premature delivery and decreased breastfeeding initiation; however, the effects are modest. More research of higher methodological quality is needed.

© Copyright 2013 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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