Postpartum or postnatal depression (PND) is a major concern in the mental health field. Children raised by mothers with PND have four times greater risk of developing a social, emotional, or behavioral problem when compared to children raised by mothers without PND. Further, children of PND mothers have increased risk for attachment issues in early childhood that can carry over into subsequent developmental stages. Despite the evidence of the significant impact on a child’s mental health, no one intervention strategy has appeared to be effective at reducing PND symptoms in mothers.
France recently attempted to create a program designed to address the emotional and social needs of mothers during pregnancy and in the first two years after they gave birth. The goal of the program they developed, entitled CAPEDP, was to provide home-based visits for high risk pregnant women and to promote infant healthcare. To test the effectiveness of CAPEDP, Romain Dugravier of the Perinatal Unit of the Center Hospital of Sainte-Anne in France recently conducted an examination of the results of a CAPEDP implementation involving 440 pregnant women.
The participants were all aged 25 and under and were to be first time mothers. In addition, all of the women had at least one significant risk factor of low socio-economic status, low education or anticipating of being a single parent. Each woman was visited at home beginning in her 35th week of pregnancy and was provided intervention services until her child turned two. Results of CAPEDP were compared to a control group of women who received treatment as usual.
The results revealed that CAPEDP, like many other established early childhood intervention programs, was highly ineffective at decreasing PND in the mothers. Dugravier did discover, however, that the women with only one risk factor saw some moderate improvement. Women with mild prenatal depression who were planning on raising their child with the father and who had high levels of education also some reduced risk for PND as a result of the intervention.
These results underscore the importance of addressing PND in high risk groups, as current approaches seem to have little impact. Dugravier added, “Effective overall reduction of PND symptomatology for young, first-time mothers presenting additional psychosocial risk factors may require more tailored interventions.”
Dugravier, R., Tubach, F., Saias, T., Guedeney, N., Pasquet, B., et al. (2013). Impact of a manualized multifocal perinatal home-visiting program using psychologists on postnatal depression: The CAPEDP randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE 8(8): e72216. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072216
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