Depressive symptoms during late pregnancy and early parenthood following assisted reproductive technology

Fertil Steril. 2009 Mar;91(3):851-7. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.01.021. Epub 2008 Mar 7.


Objective: To evaluate the relationship between assisted reproduction technology (ART) and depressive symptoms during late pregnancy and early parenthood.

Design: Case-control longitudinal study.

Setting: The Center of Reproductive Medicine, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Patient(s): Women who conceived by ART compared with men and compared with women following spontaneous conceptions.

Intervention(s): The sample of 87 subjects, 48 ART (25 mothers, 23 fathers; response rate of 30%) and 39 non-ART mothers were evaluated by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 30-32 weeks of gestation, and at 1 week and 3 months after delivery.

Main outcome measure(s): Mean scores and prevalence of low scores.

Result(s): The main sociodemographic and obstetric characteristics were similar between groups. Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores were higher in ART women compared with non-ART women during all assessments and higher during the third trimester of pregnancy and at 1 week postpartum compared with ART men. The prevalence of depressed subjects was significantly higher in ART women compared with non-ART women during the antenatal assessment.

Conclusion(s): Assisted reproductive technology pregnancies are more frequently associated with depressive symptoms that may persist after delivery, suggesting a greater emotional vulnerability of these women. The risk of depression during and following ART pregnancies needs monitoring to avoid adverse effects of postpartum depression on the mother-infant relationship and infant's psychologic development.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted / psychology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors