Pacific women at higher risk of pregnancy depression
A new study shows Pacific women in New Zealand are twice as likely to be affected by antenatal depression.
A New Zealand study has found Pacific women in the country are twice as likely to be affected by depression during pregnancy.
Just over five-and-half-thousand women of various ethnicity were surveyed as part of the Growing up in New Zealand study which is tracking the development of New Zealand children from before birth till they are young adults.
An investigator for the study, Karen Waldie, told Daniela Maoate-Cox that women without a support network were more likely to suffer from antenatal depression but that is not necessarily the case for Pacific women.
KAREN WALDIE: We've got 5,664 women in this study, we have all of their information that they provided for us in their last trimester of pregnancy and I was interested specifically in depression during pregnancy. Most people know about postnatal depression but very little is known about pregnancy depression and as I suspected, it's more common to have depression during pregnancy than actually following pregnancy.
DANIELA MAOATE-COX: And is there any way to know why Pacific women are twice as likely to be affected?
KW: Well it's a good question, and a lot of the factors that came out in analyses had to do with things that you would think would be protective for that group. Things like family cohesion and neighbourhood support and that's where we think that Asian women might have been a bit more at risk, particularly if they didn't come from New Zealand, and they're by themselves and might not find the support that they need. The other things that we found, that were related to depression was pregnancy and pre-pregnancy general health, perceived stress and pre-pregnancy weight and smoking, so these are things that could have put Pacific Islanders at more risk of depression.
DM-C: So those issues are not limited to Pacific people but there are those statistics of Pacific people being more affected in terms of obesity and smoking as well so that could be contributing to why they are twice as likely to be affected?
KW: Absolutely, that could be contributing I agree.
DM-C: What is the solution then to help bring down these rates? What kind of options are there for people to seek help?
KW: Well New Zealand currently has no screening program for depression and I think it has to be more widely known that women are at risk so GPs, midwives, obstetricians need to be aware of this. We need to get women help, we know that maternal suicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy so it's a substantial worry and depression also, there's risks for birth complications, and also long term effects on the developing child for many different reasons so it's a problem that we first of all have to bring out greater awareness for and then get women treated.
Karen Waldie says the risk of antenatal depression is three times higher for women diagnosed with anxiety regardless of ethnicity.
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