Earlier studies revealed that prenatal depression in women could lead to preterm babies, low birth weight and even intrauterine restrictions. Maternal stress including the death of a loved one, abusive relationship or lack of social support also affects prenatal depression leading to birthing complications.
However, little was done to understand the impact of prenatal depression in the male partner on the birth. But a new study has now found this connection.
Published in BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the study says that prenatal depression in fathers could impact the health of the mother and lead to premature birth.
Conducted in Sweden, more than 350,000 births between 2007 and 2012 were investigated for two reasons:
- Paternal depression
- Incidents of preterm birth (between 22 and 31 weeks) or moderate preterm births (32-36 weeks)
The result of the study had some interesting observations. In most cases, depression was defined as having been prescribed an antidepressant medication, (from 12 months before conception and till the end of the second trimester).
Keeping this definition as constant, the study made some important revelations:
- Both new (had no signs of depression 12 months prior to diagnosis) and recurrent cases of prenatal depression in women increased the risk of preterm birth to 30 to 40 percent.
- Depression in fathers was associated with 38 percent of increased risk of premature births.
- Depression in both, the father and mother should be considered to investigate premature births.
This study highlights the importance of treating depression in expecting mothers and fathers and its impact on the offspring. If you are planning to start a family and observe the following symptoms, then it’s time to ring the alarm bells.
Symptoms of prenatal depression
Although stress and anxiety are the most common signs of depression, there are other typical signs you must watch out for:
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty in communicating
- Recurring restlessness
- Experiencing fatigue
- Being overly short-tempered
- Feeling hopeless and sad
- Preoccupied with negative thoughts including suicide.
Beware of these symptoms and consult a doctor at the earliest to prevent its negative impact on the birth of your child.
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