Objective: To relate serum allopregnanolone and progesterone levels postpartum to maternity "blues."
Methods: Forty primiparous, healthy, married women (24-39 years of age; at least 13 years of education) who delivered healthy neonates in the Department of Obstetrics at the University of Pavia entered the present study. Blood samples were drawn at 8:30 AM on postpartum day 3 for measurements of serum allopregnanolone, progesterone, cortisol, prolactin, and estradiol. On the same day, every woman was interviewed using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression for psychometric testing and completed a self-administered version of the Stein Questionnaire for symptoms of the "blues."
Results: Eighteen of 40 women (45%) experienced maternity "blues" (12 who delivered vaginally and six who delivered by cesarean). Serum allopregnanolone levels were significantly lower in those women experiencing postpartum "blues" with respect to euthymic women (1.1 +/- 0.4 versus 2.3 +/- 1.0 nmol/L; P <.001), whereas progesterone levels did not differ significantly (11.6 +/- 5.6 versus 19.1 +/- 15.6 nmol/L; P >.058). Allopregnanolone and progesterone levels correlated significantly in euthymic women (r =.648; P =.001) but not in those with postpartum "blues" (r =.317; P =.199). There was a significant negative correlation between the Hamilton score and levels of serum allopregnanolone (r = -.62; P =.001) and progesterone (r = -.36; P =.024).
Conclusion: Serum allopregnanolone levels were detectable postpartum and were significantly decreased in women with maternity "blues."