There postpartum depression occurs between 11 and 20% of women who give birth each year and according to new research by a study team of the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing of Florida Atlantic University breastfeeding affects its incidence.
There Research was published in the scientific journal Public Health Nursing.
Postpartum depression and breastfeeding: here’s what the research says
Considering the percentage of women suffering from postpartum depression, that’s as mentioned above is between 11 and 20%, if you take into account that there are about 4 million annual births in the United States alone, this equates to nearly 800,000 women with postpartum depression. A not insignificant fact given that ignoring the disease can lead to suicidal tendencies and infanticides.
Current biological and psychosocial models of breastfeeding tell us that breastfeeding could reduce a woman’s risk of suffering postpartum depression. However, previous studies have only looked at the initiation of breastfeeding and its duration.
Furthermore, small and often homogeneous samples produced non-generalizable results lacking statistical power with biased results due to higher levels of education, income and proportions of Caucasian participants compared to the general population of the sample country (The United States).
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing were the first to observe the current state of breastfeeding in association with the risk of experiencing postpartum depression, using a large national population-based dataset. from 29,685 women living in 26 states.
The results of the research showed that postpartum depression is a significant health problem among American women with nearly 13% of the sample at risk. Study outcomes showed that women who were currently breastfeeding at the time of data collection had a statistically lower risk of postpartum depression than women who were not breastfeeding.. Furthermore, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between the duration of breastfeeding and the risk of being affected by the disease in question.
Indeed, as the number of weeks the women breastfeed increased, their postpartum depression decreased. An unexpected finding was that there was no significant difference in the risk of experiencing depression after childbirth among women with different breastfeeding intentions (yes, no, uncertain).
“Women who suffer from postpartum depression, which occurs within four weeks and up to 12 months after giving birth, endure feelings of sadness, anxiety and extreme fatigue that make their daily lives difficult.“, he has declared Christine Toledo, Ph.D., senior author and assistant professor in FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing: “Women with postpartum depression who are not treated can also have negative outcomes, including difficulties bonding and caring for their children, thoughts of harming themselves or their baby, and are also at increased risk for substance abuse.“.
Women who have experienced depression after giving birth have a 50% increased risk of suffering from further episodes of depression in later births. In addition, they have a 25% increased risk of suffering from further depressive disorders not related to childbirth for up to 11 years later. The incidence of childbirth-related depression increases maternal morbidity and is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
For the study, Toledo and collaborators of the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of North Carolina School of Nursing, Chapel Hill, Seattle University of Nursing and The University of British Columbia School of Nursing, analyzed the 2016 dataset and the pregnancy risk assessment monitoring system questionnaire (PRAMS) to investigate the association with breastfeeding, evaluating significant variations such as age, race, marital status, education, abuse before and during pregnancy, and smoking cigarettes.
“THE Results of this major study suggest that breastfeeding is a healthy and cost-effective behavior that can reduce a woman’s risk for postpartum depression“, has explained Safiya George, Ph.D., principal, FAU Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing: “Nurses, in particular, play an important role in educating and promoting both the maternal health benefits of breastfeeding and the benefits for babies, such as providing the necessary nutrients and protecting them from allergies, diseases and infections. “