Sunday, July 19, 2009

Depression Poses Pregnancy Risks

Thanks to high-profile celebrities like Brooke Shields, postpartum depression is out of the closet and discussed as something to recognize and treat.

But less well known is depression during pregnancy -- a common problem as well, and one that also can be risky for the unborn baby, experts now know.

A depressed woman, for instance, is more likely to give birth early, increasing health risks for the baby.

Depression during pregnancy is more common than most people believe, agree Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive perinatal epidemiologist in the research division at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and Dr. Diana Dell, a psychiatrist and obstetrician-gynecologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

One or two of every 10 pregnant women have symptoms of major depression, according to the March of Dimes. Those who have had a bout of depression before are more likely to get it again. And Li said that others might have depressive symptoms -- short of clinical depression but still bothersome and unhealthy.


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