Around one in ten mothers experience post-partum depression after the birth of a baby.
But determining which women might be at risk has been challenging,
especially among first-time moms. New research suggests that a particular hormone present during pregnancy is a powerful predictor of later depression. Testing for the hormone could put doctors & women on alert for symptoms -- and get help faster to patients.
Women suffering from postpartum depression often go untreated for weeks because they don't recognize the symptoms or realize they are at risk.
But new research from the University of California at Irvine suggests it
might be possible to PREDICT postpartum depression -- months before the baby is even born.
Doctors took blood samples from 100 women throughout their pregnancies and checked for levels of a hormone called pCRH, which is made by the placenta during fetal development.
They found that women who developed postpartum depression all had high levels of pCRH around the 6th month of their pregnancies.
Researchers theorize that the sudden loss of pCRH after the birth may
trigger the depression symptoms.
They believe if other studies confirm their results, it will one day be able to screen women during pregnancy with a blood test to determine who
might be at high risk for postpartum depression.
Women and doctors could then be on alert for symptoms, such as persistent sadness, insomnia, loss of appetite, and difficulty bonding with the baby.