A new study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., recently posted online, offers prospective parents more reason to worry. The study showed that pregnant women who have symptoms of depression are at increased risk for giving birth prematurely.1
Researchers interviewed nearly 800 women early in their pregnancy using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD). The 20-question CESD rates depressive features on a scale from 0 to 60. A score of 16 or higher signaled the presence of significant prenatal depressive symptoms and a score of 22 or greater indicated severe depressive symptoms.
Women who scored 16 points or higher had almost twice the risk of preterm delivery relative to women without depressive symptoms. The risk increased with symptom severity. The risk of preterm delivery in this group was associated with low educational level, a history of infertility, obesity, and stressful events.
De-Kun Li, the study’s lead author, is quoted as saying “depression during pregnancy is frequently dismissed or underdiagnosed. I hope our study will raise a red flag.