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BMJ Publishing Group, BMJ Open, 8(12), p. e059300, 2022

DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059300



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Lifetime prevalence and correlates of perinatal depression in a case-cohort study of depression

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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ObjectivesThis study sought to evaluate the prevalence, timing of onset and duration of symptoms of depression in the perinatal period (PND) in women with depression, according to whether they had a history of depression prior to their first perinatal period. We further sought to identify biopsychosocial correlates of perinatal symptoms in women with depression.Design and settingThe Australian Genetics of Depression Study is an online case cohort study of the aetiology of depression. For a range of variables, women with depression who report significant perinatal depressive symptoms were compared with women with lifetime depression who did not experience perinatal symptoms.ParticipantsIn a large sample of parous women with major depressive disorder (n=7182), we identified two subgroups of PND cases with and without prior depression history (n=2261; n=878, respectively).Primary and secondary outcome measuresThe primary outcome measure was a positive screen for PND on the lifetime version of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Descriptive measures reported lifetime prevalence, timing of onset and duration of PND symptoms. There were no secondary outcome measures.ResultsThe prevalence of PND among parous women was 70%. The majority of women reported at least one perinatal episode with symptoms both antenatally and postnatally. Of women who experienced depression prior to first pregnancy, PND cases were significantly more likely to report more episodes of depression (OR=1.15 per additional depression episode, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.17, p<0.001), non-European ancestry (OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.0 to 2.1, p=0.03), severe nausea during pregnancy (OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.6, p=0.006) and emotional abuse (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.1 to 1.7, p=0.005).ConclusionsThe majority of parous women with lifetime depression in this study experienced PND, associated with more complex, severe depression. Results highlight the importance of perinatal assessments of depressive symptoms, particularly for women with a history of depression or childhood adverse experiences.