Preventing postnatal depression in mothers of very preterm infants: a randomised controlled trial

BJOG. 2004 Jul;111(7):641-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2004.00165.x.


Objective: To test whether a cognitive-behaviour therapy intervention program reduces the prevalence of depression during the first postnatal year in mothers of very preterm babies.

Design: Prospective, single blind, randomised, controlled study.

Setting: Perinatal centre in Western Australia.

Participants: One hundred and ninety-nine out of 673 English-speaking mothers of infants admitted to the neonatal unit.

Intervention: A six-session cognitive-behaviour therapy intervention program provided by a research midwife between weeks two and six after birth. Women in the control group received standard care.

Main outcome measures: Depression and anxiety disorders occurring in the first year assessed by a clinical psychologist at structured interview using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (SADS) at 2 weeks, 2, 6 and 12 months.

Results: One hundred and one women were randomised to the intervention group and 98 to the control group. Fifty-four mothers (27%) in the trial were diagnosed with minor or major depression in the 12 months following very preterm delivery, 29 (29%) in the intervention group and 25 (26%) in the control group (relative risk 1.1 [95% CI 0.80-1.5]). There were no differences in the time of onset or the duration of the episodes of depression between the groups. Overall, 74 mothers (37%) of the 199 met criteria for a diagnosis of psychological morbidity during the first year.

Conclusions: Our intervention program did not alter the prevalence of depression in these mothers. Rates of depression and stress reactions are high in these mothers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depression, Postpartum / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / psychology*
  • Postnatal Care / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method