A study published today has found that depression in expectant mothers and fathers is associated with an increased risk of premature birth.
The study, published in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, looked at more than 350,000 births in Sweden between 2007 and 2012, and investigated them for prenatal parental depression and incidences of either very preterm birth (between 22 and 31 weeks) or moderately preterm birth (32-36 weeks).
They looked at cases where the depression was new, meaning the parents hadn’t suffered from it before, as well as cases where it was recurrent, meaning they had suffered before.
The researchers found that in mothers, both new and recurrent depression were associated with an increased risk of preterm birth. New depression in fathers was also associated with an increased risk of preterm birth.
Caroline Davey, Chief Executive of Bliss, the premature and sick baby charity said: “This study highlights the importance of providing proper mental health support for both parents, starting early in pregnancy and continuing right through into the post-natal period and beyond. It is crucial that we do everything that we can to provide the right psychological support for parents, when they need it, and thereby to reduce the risk of preterm birth, which we know can have serious long term effects on both the wellbeing of the baby and the mental wellbeing of the parents.
“More research is needed to fully understand the effects of both maternal and paternal depression on pregnancy, but in the meantime it is vital that more resources and efforts are put into proactive measures to identify and treat it.”
If you would like to find out more about the research, you can find it here.
If you are looking for pregnancy information and support, please visit the NHS web pages.