Postpartum Depression Risk May Rise for New Moms in Big Cities

Lack of social support can contribute to condition, study authors say

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TUESDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- New mothers who live in large cities are more likely to suffer postpartum depression than those in other areas, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 6,400 women living in different parts of Canada and found that 7.5 percent of them said they had experienced postpartum depression, in the study published Aug. 6 in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Women in large cities (500,00 or more people) had the greatest risk at 10 percent, compared with 7 percent for those in semi-rural areas (less than 30,000 people), 6 percent for those in rural areas (less than 1,000 people) and 5 percent for those in semi-urban areas (30,000 to 499,000 people), according to a journal news release.

"The risk factors for postpartum depression [including history of depression, social support and immigration status] that were unequally distributed across geographic regions accounted for most of the variance in the rates of postpartum depression," wrote Dr. Simone Vigod, a psychiatrist at Women's College Hospital and scientist at Women's College Research Institute, in Toronto, and colleagues.

"Supports and services targeted toward increasing connections for isolated women in large urban centers may need to be increased in Canada," they concluded. "Considering the substantial negative effect of postpartum depression, such interventions could have broad-reaching social and public health impact."

Although the study found higher risk for postpartum depression among women living in cities, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about postpartum depression.

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