Perinatal complications increase the risk of postpartum depression. The Generation R Study

BJOG. 2010 Oct;117(11):1390-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2010.02660.x.


Objective: To examine whether specific pregnancy and delivery complications are risk factors for postpartum depression.

Design: A prospective longitudinal study.

Setting: Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Population: A cohort of 4941 pregnant women who enrolled in the Generation R Study.

Methods: Information on perinatal complications was obtained from the midwife and hospital registries or by questionnaire. Logistic regression analyses were used to calculate the risk of postpartum depression for the separate perinatal complications.

Main outcome measures: Postpartum psychiatric symptoms were assessed 2 months after delivery using the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale.

Results: Several perinatal complications were significantly associated with postpartum depression, namely: pre-eclampsia (adjusted OR, aOR 2.58, 95% CI 1.30-5.14), hospitalization during pregnancy (aOR 2.25, 95% CI 1.19-4.26), emergency caesarean section (aOR 1.53, 95% CI 1.02-2.31), suspicion of fetal distress (aOR 1.56, 95% CI 1.08-2.27), a medically indicated delivery provided by an obstetrician (aOR 2.43, 95% CI 1.56-3.78), and hospital admission of the baby (aOR 1.45, 95% CI 1.10-1.92). Unplanned pregnancy, thrombosis, meconium-stained amniotic fluid, and Apgar score were not associated with postpartum depression after adjustment for confounding factors, such as pre-existing psychopathological symptoms and sociodemographic characteristics. The risk of postpartum depression increased with the number of perinatal complications women experienced (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: We showed that several pregnancy and delivery complications present a risk for women's mental health in the postpartum period. Obstetricians, midwives, general practitioners, and staff at baby well clinics should be aware that women who experienced perinatal complications-especially those with a number of perinatal complications-are at risk for developing postpartum depression.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Home Childbirth
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors