Prevalence of Self-Reported Postpartum Depressive Symptoms

Armen Hareyan's picture

Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 10%--15% of mothers within the first year after giving birth. Younger mothers and those experiencing partner-related stress or physical abuse might be more likely to develop PPD.


CDC analyzed data from the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) for 2004--2005 (the most recent data available) to 1) assess the prevalence of self-reported postpartum depressive symptoms (PDS) among mothers by selected demographic characteristics and other possible risk factors for PDS and 2) determine factors that identify mothers most likely to develop PPD. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicated that, during 2004--2005, the prevalence of self-reported PDS in 17 U.S. states* ranged from 11.7% (Maine) to 20.4% (New Mexico). Younger women, those with lower educational attainment, and women who received Medicaid benefits for their delivery were more likely to report PDS. State and local health departments should evaluate the effectiveness of targeting mental health services to these mothers and incorporating messages about PPD into existing programs (e.g., domestic violence services) for women at higher risk.

PRAMS is an ongoing, state-specific, population-based surveillance project that collects self-reported information on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and after delivery of a live infant. PRAMS is administered by CDC in collaboration with participating states and cities and is designed to be representative of women in participating states who have delivered during the preceding 2--6 months. Response rates were >70% for 2004 and 2005 in each of the 17 participating states. During 2004--2005, these 17 states included two questions on self-reported PDS in their PRAMS surveys: 1) "Since your new baby was born, how often have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?" and 2) "Since your new baby was born, how often have you had little interest or little pleasure in doing things?" The response choices were "always," "often," "sometimes," "rarely," and "never"; women who said "often" or "always" to either question were classified as experiencing self-reported PDS. Because of their high sensitivity (96%), these two questions have been recommended as a depression case-finding instrument by health professionals. Chi-square tests were used to test for significant differences (p<0.05) in the proportion of women reporting PDS by demographic characteristics and other possible risk factors for postpartum depressive symptoms within each of the 17 states; approximate 95% confidence intervals for these proportions were calculated.

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