Multiple Birth Increases Postpartum Depression Risk

By Caroline Cassels

April 6, 2009 — Women who give birth to more than 1 infant at a time have a 43% greater risk of having postpartum depressive symptoms compared with those who have singleton births, a large population-based study shows.

Investigators at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Birth Cohort, a nationally representative sample of children born in 2001, and found the adjusted odds ratio of having moderate to severe depressive symptoms was 1.43 for mothers of multiple births compared with mothers of singletons.

"The magnitude of the difference between mothers of multiples and singletons was very surprising and very robust," first author Yoonjoung Choi, DrPH, told Medscape Psychiatry.

Another surprising finding, she said, was that, regardless of birth status, only 27% of women with depressive symptoms sought care.

"Only a very small portion, about 27%, of all mothers who had depressive symptoms had talked to a healthcare provider about the problem, and there was no difference between mothers of multiples and singletons in terms of care seeking," she said.

The study is published in the April issue of Pediatrics.

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