The further you live from the equator, the darker and more depressing winter can be. If you live in an area that experiences a wide swing in the amount of daylight throughout the year, you already knew that. But recently, a Swedish study has linked autumn births with an increase in the prevalence of postpartum depression.
The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, looked at 2,000 women, all of whom gave birth at the same institution within a one-year time frame. The women were asked to complete questionnaires 5 days, 6 weeks and 6 months after giving birth. They were questioned on their emotional state, to determine if they were exhibiting signs of postpartum depression. They were also gauged on the amount of support they had from friends and family and a variety of other factors.
Once other stress inducing factors had been accounted for, researchers found that women who delivered their children in the months of October, November and December had double the incidents of postpartum depression, 6 weeks and 6 months out, compared to women who had given birth in April, May and June.
The study doesn’t prove a cause and effect between winter and postpartum depression. Dr. Sara Sylven of Uppsala University explains, “We guess that some hormones could differ during the year,” leading to a risk for depression. Lack of vitamin D through a Swedish winter, may also play a role.
Sylven believes that there is now enough accumulated evidence linking season and postpartum depression, in countries that experience little sunlight through the winter. Sylven says doctors should, “think about this when (they) meet the women who will give birth in October, November, (and) December.”
“There is such a big impact of season,” she said, “we could have closer follow-up (for) the women giving birth during the autumn.” – Jen R, Staff Writer
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