Depression May Play a Role in Preterm Delivery

Bay Area study looks at depression link to delivery risks

Depressed pregnant women have twice the risk of pre-term delivery than pregnant women with no symptoms of depression, according to a new study by the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

The study found that pregnant women with symptoms of depression have an increased risk of pre-term delivery, and that the risk grows with the severity of the depressive symptoms. These findings also provide preliminary evidence that social and reproductive risk factors, obesity, and stressful events may exacerbate the depression-preterm delivery link, according to the researchers.

Because the majority of the women in the study did not use anti-depressants, the study provides a clear look at the link between depression and preterm delivery.

The study -- which is among the first to examine depression and pre-term delivery in a representative and diverse population in the United States -- looked at 791 pregnant Kaiser Permanente members in San Francisco city and county from October 1996 through October 1998.

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