Racial and ethnic differences in factors associated with early postpartum depressive symptoms

Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Jun;105(6):1442-50. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000164050.34126.37.


Objective: To explore racial differences in reporting of early postpartum depressive symptoms. To explore whether racial differences in early postpartum experience (such as mother's health status and social context) might account for racial differences in reported postpartum depressive symptoms.

Methods: This was a telephone survey of 655 white, African-American, and Hispanic mothers between 2 and 6 weeks postpartum. Mothers reported on demographic factors, physical symptoms, daily function, infant behaviors, social support, skills in managing infant and household, access, and trust in the medical system. We explored racial differences in report of early postpartum depressive symptoms using bivariate and multivariate statistics.

Results: African-American and Hispanic women more commonly reported postpartum depressive symptoms (43.9% and 46.8%, respectively) than white women (31.3%, P < .001). Similar factors (physical symptom burden, lack of social support, and lack of self-efficacy) were associated with early postpartum depressive symptoms in white, African-American, and Hispanic mothers. In a comprehensive model including other demographic factors, history of depression, physical symptoms, daily function, infant behavior, social support, skills in managing infant and household, access, and trust, the adjusted odds ratio for reported postpartum depressive symptoms remained elevated for African-American women at 2.16 (95% confidence interval 1.26-3.70) and Hispanic women at 1.89 (95% confidence interval 1.19-3.01) as compared with white women.

Conclusion: African-American and Hispanic mothers are at higher risk for reporting early postpartum depressive symptoms as compared with white mothers. Factors associated with these symptoms are similar among African-American, Hispanic, and white mothers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American
  • Data Collection
  • Demography
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Pregnancy
  • Racial Groups
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People