Study finds women who give birth to boys more likely to have postnatal depression

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WOMEN who give birth to boys are more likely to have postnatal depression according to a new study. 

The study into postnatal depression (PND) conducted by the University of Kent, found the odds of developing this condition increased by 79% when mothers had baby boys compared to baby girls.

Furthermore, women whose births had complications were 174% more likely to experience PND compared to those women who had no complications.

As a result of their findings, Dr Sarah Johns and Dr Sarah Myers in the University’s School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC), conclude that recognising that both male infants and birth complications are PND risk factors should help health professionals in identifying and supporting women who may by more likely to develop this condition.

Their research also showed that while women with a tendency towards symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress were always at increased risk of PND, they had reduced odds of developing PND after experiencing birth complications.

This is likely because these women may receive greater post-birth support because their mental health concerns were previously recognised. This finding suggests interventions to support women can be effective in preventing PND developing.

Dr Johns said: “PND is a condition that is avoidable, and it has been shown that giving women at risk extra help and support can make it less likely to develop.

“The finding that having a baby boy or a difficult birth increases a woman’s risk gives health practitioners two new and easy ways to identify women who would particularly benefit from additional support in the first few weeks and months.”

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