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Med J Aust. 1992 Aug 3;157(3):172-4.

Increased risk of postnatal depression after emergency caesarean section.

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Department of Psychiatry, Nepean Hospital, Penrith, NSW.



To examine whether women having an emergency caesarean section are at increased risk of developing postnatal depression at one, three and six months postpartum.


Participants were part of a larger study examining the relationship between personality dysfunction and postnatal depression. All women were recruited at an antenatal clinic in the first trimester of their pregnancy. These women were followed up at one, three and six months postpartum to identify cases of postnatal depression, defined by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).


Data were collected from 188 women, who were divided into three groups by method of delivery: 21 women had an emergency caesarean section, 49 had a forceps delivery and 118 had a spontaneous vaginal delivery. Comparison of the groups indicated a significant difference at three months postpartum only. Women having an emergency caesarean section had significantly higher EPDS scores than women who had forceps or spontaneous vaginal delivery (9.15 +/- 6.18 v. 5.05 +/- 3.81 v. 5.79 +/- 4.47; F(2,143) = 4.2, P less than 0.02). Analysis of postnatal depression at three months indicated that women in the emergency caesarean section group had a relative risk of 6.82 (95% confidence interval, 2.85-16.15) compared with women in the other groups.


When compared with women having spontaneous vaginal or forceps deliveries, women having an emergency caesarean section had more than six times the risk of developing postnatal depression three months postpartum. Special attention to this group appears warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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