Blood test could ‘predict post-natal depression’

A simple test may predict post-natal depression

A simple blood test could soon be used to predict if pregnant women will suffer from post-natal depression.

According to the US researchers, measuring a woman’s hormones midway through pregnancy could predict whether she will develop the baby blues.

If the test goes on to be proven in larger studies, it could one day be standard practice for expectant mothers.

Scientists measured the amount of pCRH (placental corticotropin-releasing hormone) produced by the placenta halfway through the pregnancy.

They found where there were high levels of the hormone, they were able to predict depression with an accuracy of 75%.

But it was only accurate if blood was taken when the woman was between 23 and 26 weeks pregnant, the point at which levels of the hormone peak, according to the findings published in the Archives of General Psychiatry journal.

It was more accurate still if the women were already suffering from symptoms of depression whilst pregnant.

Doctors have previously identified other factors which increase the chance of pregnant women suffering from post-natal depression such as history of feeling low, lack of family support, poor self-esteem and feeling anxious or stressed during pregnancy.

Postnatal depression generally starts within four to six weeks of giving birth and affects 10-15% of mothers.

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