Gestational diabetes increases risk of post-natal depression, new study finds

by Barbara Hewitt on January 20, 2017

First time mothers are at a greater risk of developing depression after giving birth if they have suffered from gestational diabetes, new research has found.

Scientists in the United States and Sweden, in the largest study of its kind to date, looked at the effects of gestational diabetes in a group of more than 700,000 women.

Gestinational DiabetesThey also found that women with a history of depression are more than 20 times more likely to experience mental problems after birth than mothers without a previous clinical diagnosis of depression.

And while gestational diabetes alone increased risk, a history of maternal depression in conjunction with gestational diabetes further increased the likelihood.

‘Most practitioners think of these as two isolated and very different conditions, but we now understand gestational diabetes and postpartum depression should be considered together,’ said Michael Silverman, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

‘While having diabetes increases post-natal depression risk for all women, for those women who have had a past depressive episode, having diabetes during pregnancy makes it 70% more likely that they will develop it,’ he added.

In addition to gestational diabetes, the researchers studied more than a dozen other risk factors, including pre-gestational diabetes, for association with post-natal depression in women with and without a history of depression.

Among women with a history of depression, pre-gestational diabetes and mild preterm delivery increased risk. Young age, instrument-assisted or caesarean delivery, and moderate preterm delivery increased risk in women who had no history of depression.

The researchers said that studying the modifying effect of maternal depression risk factors sheds new light on the relationship between diabetes and depression and pointed out that post-natal depression can result in negative personal and child developmental outcomes.

Silverman hopes that clinicians can use the information from the study to intervene early before mothers at risk give birth.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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