A new study recently published in Social Science & Medicine found that women who give birth to boys may be at a higher risk of postpartum depression.
Researchers from the University of Kent analyzed the reproductive histories of 296 women and found that moms who had male infants were 71 to 79 percent more likely to experience postpartum depression. Moreover, women who had birth complications were 174 percent more likely to have postpartum depression, compared to moms who had no complications.
It has been shown that giving women at risk extra help and support can make it less likely to develop.
Study authors Dr. Sarah Myers and Dr. Sarah E. Johns also point to a well-documented link between inflammation and the development of depressive symptoms. In general, women who have boys exhibit more postnatal inflammation and are thus at an increased risk of experiencing postpartum depression. Combine that with delivery complications, and a mother's risk for postpartum depression is heightened, as both have been found to independently cause inflammation at the cellular level.
Although the statistics may seem scary at first, Dr. Myers and Dr. Johns hope that their research will lead to women getting more post-birth medical attention.
"It has been shown that giving women at risk extra help and support can make it less likely to develop," said Dr. Johns. "Hopefully now, this new research will give health providers tools to look more closely at the women who are more [at risk.] And hopefully, they are able to get them help, or put wheels in motion more quickly."
Interestingly enough, the doctors discovered that women who knew they were more at risk for developing postpartum depression because of previous issues with anxiety and stress actually had "reduced odds" of experiencing it after birth complications. They believe this is because new moms with a history of mental health issues tend to receive more help and medical attention after giving birth, compared to those with no history.