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Matern Child Health J. 2008 Nov;12(6):699-707. Epub 2007 Oct 23.

Postpartum depression: racial differences and ethnic disparities in a tri-racial and bi-ethnic population.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, P.O. Box 1510, Pembroke, NC 28372, USA.



This research investigated the differences and disparities of postpartum depression in a sample of African American, Hispanic, Native American, and White women.


A sample of 586 women were administered the Beck-Gable PDSS at 6-weeks postpartum. Factor analysis was applied to analyze the similarities among African American, Hispanic, Native American, and White participants. Confidence intervals of the rates of depression by group were estimated, followed by statistical tests to determine the differences among these rates. Risk assessment was performed with factor analysis and correlation methods.


Hispanic women had a remarkably lower depression rate (2.5%) than other groups (P-values<0.05). Significant differences for major depression were not found among African American, Native American, and White women; but Whites had higher minor depression (P-values<0.05). Native American women had the highest rate of major depression (18.7%) and an average minor depression (10.5%). Although Whites had the second highest major depression (17.6%) and the highest minor depression (19.6%), their average full score (76.1) was noticeably lower than that of Native Americans (82.9) and slightly lower than that of African Americans (78.9; major and minor depression rates: 14.8% and 9.9%). The sample also demonstrated strong associations of depression with depression history and breastfeeding.


Statistically, postpartum depression can be ranked from high to low as Native Americans, Whites, African Americans and Hispanics (Hispanics have remarkably lower depression rates). This information is critically important to clinicians, researchers, agency administrators and social workers who work with these populations.

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