More than one-third of mothers and about one-fifth of fathers in the United Kingdom appear to experience an episode of depression between their child's birth and 12th year of age, with the highest rates in the first year after birth, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the November print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
"Depression in parents is associated with adverse behavioral, developmental and cognitive outcomes in their children," the authors write as background information in the article. "While the maternal depression and child outcome literature is well established, there are fewer studies on paternal depression. There is evidence that paternal depression is not uncommon, with rates higher than those in the general adult male population; however, a wide range of prevalence rates for paternal depression have been reported."
Shreya Dav, Ph.D., M.Sc., B.Sc., of the Medical Research Council, London, England, and colleagues examined incidence, trends and correlates of parental depression in 86,957 families seen in U.K. primary care facilities between 1993 and 2007. Mothers and fathers with depression were identified using diagnostic codes and pharmacy records.
Overall, between their children's birth and age 12, 19,286 mothers had a total of 25,176 episodes of depression and 8,012 fathers had a total of 9,683 episodes of depression. The depression rate was 7.53 per 100 mothers per year and 2.69 per 100 fathers per year. The highest rates were observed in the first year after the birth of a child, with 13.93 per 100 mothers and 3.56 per 100 fathers experiencing depression in that period.
"These high rates of depression in the postpartum period are not surprising owing to the potential stress associated with the birth of a baby, e.g., poor parental sleep, the demands made on parents and the change in their responsibilities, and the pre
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