UK: postnatal depression risk far higher in mothers of boys

08 February 2019

The odds of developing postnatal depression (PND) increased by up to 79% when mothers had baby boys rather than girls.

Researchers from the University of Kent, using data from 296 women, also found that women whose births had complications were 174% more likely to experience PND compared with women who had no complications.

Lead authors Dr Sarah Johns and Dr Sarah Myers set out to discover any relationship between the sex of infants and PND, because of the known link between inflammatory immune response and the development of depressive symptoms.

A pregnancy with a male fetus and birth complications have both previously been linked with increased inflammation yet, until this study, published in Social Science & Medicine, the relationships with PND were unclear.

Dr Johns said the finding ‘gives health practitioners two new and easy ways to identify women who would particularly benefit from additional support in the first few weeks and months’.

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