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J Reprod Med. 2000 Feb;45(2):97-104.

Cultural elements of postpartum depression. A study of 327 Jewish Jerusalem women.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Chaim-Sheeba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel.



To examine the social, cultural and religious factors underlying postpartum depression within a cultural cross-section of Jewish Jerusalem women.


A prospective, repeated-measures study of 327 women. The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) was administered immediately postpartum and 6-10 weeks later. Detailed sociodemographic information included perceptions of the pregnancy, community supports and religious affiliation. Odds ratios, 95% confidence interval and P values were calculated for all covariates. Multiple logistic regression was performed to estimate the degree of independent association between religiosity and postpartum depression.


Postpartum depressive symptoms significantly associated with secular affiliation (odds ratio [OR] 2.9 [1.3-6.3] and tended toward an inverse association with orthodox affiliation (OR 0.6 [0.3-1.3]). Across secular, traditional, religious and orthodox groups, there was a decreasing trend in EPDS mean scores. Other predictors of depressive symptoms were psychiatric history, immigrant status and poor support with newborn care.


Our study sample was particularly suitable for the assessment of cultural and religious elements of postpartum depression. We found religiosity, with its associated social and community structuring and well-defined social roles, to be significantly associated with self-reported postpartum depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that cultural factors, including role definitions, community support and rituals, may explain discrepancies found in the incidence of postpartum depression.

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