Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Premature Births Possibly Tied To Depression

Being depressed is known to have numerous negative effects, ranging from insomnia to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. However, studies are starting to show more and more effects of depression that people would not necessarily expect. There have been studies linking it to heart disease indirectly, with behavioral changes that are detrimental to the heart being the cause. Now, another study has found data that indicates that being depressed can lead to a problem if a woman is pregnant: premature birth. Apparently, being depressed can increase the risk of premature birth.

The study, published online, used a survey and a test population of 791 women during the early stages of their pregnancies. The survey contained 20 questions, with score ranges from 0 to 60. The higher scores indicated worse or more frequent depressive symptoms, with lower numbers indicating less intense moments. The researchers then set out to eliminate factors such as miscarriages, previous pre-term births for the women involved, social and economic status, education level, and other variable factors. The research team came to find that among those who scored below 16, there was a smaller risk of having a premature delivery. Those who scored 22 or higher were at twice the risk or more.

Depression while pregnant is not an uncommon event, but many doctors tend to either treat it dismissively or underestimate the severity of the condition. Those who conducted the study are hoping that their data will help doctors realize that depression during pregnancy can be dangerous.

There are problems with handling depression during pregnancy. The safety of using antidepressant medications during pregnancy are largely unknown. While it can be assumed that they don't have an effect on physical development, there are no studies that have confirmed this, and there have been no studies analyzing the long-term effects of such medications on the children.

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