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.