Women with no history of depression who deliver a stillbirth may have an increased risk for long-lasting depression, according to a research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The findings are published online in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.

Researchers from the NIH’s Stillbirth Collaborate Research Network (SCRN) enrolled 275 women who delivered a stillbirth and 522 women who delivered a healthy live birth after 27 weeks of pregnancy from 2006–2008. One year later, the women were asked to complete the Edinburgh Depression Scale questionnaire to assess whether they were experiencing symptoms of depression.

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Of the >76% of women without a history of depression, a little over 13% of women who had a stillbirth received a high depression score; just 5% of women who had a live birth received a high depression score. Women who had a stillbirth were twice as likely to have a high depression score vs. women who had a live birth. At 24–36 months post-delivery, 17.6% of women who had a stillbirth had a high depression score vs. 1.9% of women who had a live birth.

Carol Hogue, PhD, the study’s first author, supports the idea to screen women for depression for at least 3three years after delivering a stillbirth. The authors note that more research is needed to assist women in managing the grieving process after a stillbirth to reduce the long-term risk of depression.

For more information visit NIH.gov.