Postnatal depression and its effects on child development: a review of evidence from low- and middle-income countries

Br Med Bull. 2012;101:57-79. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldr047. Epub 2011 Nov 29.


Introduction or background: It is well established that postnatal depression (PND) is prevalent in high-income countries and is associated with negative personal, family and child developmental outcomes.

Sources of data: Here, studies on the prevalence of maternal PND in low- and middle-income countries are reviewed and a geographical prevalence map is presented. The impact of PND upon child outcomes is also reviewed.

Areas of agreement: The available evidence suggests that rates of PND are substantial, and in many regions, are higher than those reported for high-income countries. An association between PND and adverse child developmental outcomes was identified in many of the countries examined.

Areas of controversy: Significant heterogeneity in prevalence rates and impact on child outcomes across studies means that the true extent of the disease burden is still unclear.

Areas timely for developing research: Nonetheless, there is a compelling case for the implementation of interventions to reduce the impact of PND on the quality of the mother-infant relationship and improve child outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Developmental Disabilities / epidemiology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors