UMMS study: Postpartum depression more prevalent among mothers with disabilities

By Jennifer Rosinski

UMass Medical School Communications

June 25, 2014
  Monika Mitra, PhD, a faculty researcher in the Center for Health Policy and Research, lead the UMMS research team.
  Monika Mitra, PhD, a faculty researcher in the Center for Health Policy and Research, lead the UMMS research team.

Women with disabilities are a greater risk of experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression than women without disabilities, reveals a new study co-authored by researchers in UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.

Almost 30 percent of mothers with disabilities reported often feeling down, depressed or sad after childbirth compared to 10 percent of mothers without disabilities, according to the study, Prevalence and Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression Symptoms Among Women with Disabilities. The study was published in the June edition of Maternal and Child Health Journal.

The study also found that women with disabilities were more likely to report depression before and during pregnancy. However, among women with disabilities there was no association between depression diagnosis before pregnancy and symptoms of postpartum depression.

The study is the first to examine postpartum depression among women with disabilities using population-based data from the 2009-2011 Rhode Island Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System.

The UMass Medical School team was led by Monika Mitra, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health, and a faculty researcher in the Center for Health Policy and Research.

Study co-authors included Bruce Barton, PhD, research professor of quantitative health sciences; Linda Long-Bellil, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health; and Jianying Zhang, MD, all of UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research; Lisa I. Iezzoni, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital; and Suzanne Smeltzer, EdD, of Villanova University.

This research was funded by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development on the needs and barriers to perinatal care for women with mobility