Women who suffer domestic abuse during or shortly before becoming pregnant have a fivefold increased risk of postpartum depression, researchers say.
The findings suggest that intimate partner violence is a stronger predictor of postpartum depression than prenatal depression, which is generally regarded as the most significant risk factor.
The study of 210 Hispanic women aged 18 and older in Los Angeles found that women who experienced domestic violence during pregnancy or within the 12 months prior to pregnancy were 5.4 times more likely to suffer postpartum depression than those who hadn't suffered recent abuse.
Prenatal depression and postnatal depression
The researchers also found that women who experienced prenatal depression were 3.5 times more likely to have postpartum depression than those who didn't experience prenatal depression.
These findings indicate that pregnant women should be screened for both prenatal depression and intimate partner violence, said the researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities.
The study appears in the Archives of Women's Mental Health.
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