Giving birth to boys more likely to bring on baby blues
New mums who give birth to boys are more likely to develop post-natal depression than those who have girls, new research claims.
They are also more likely to experience a poorer quality of life in the months after the baby.
A study carried out on 181 women, 9% of whom suffered post-natal depression four to eight weeks after delivery, showed that that three-quarters of these had given birth to boys.
Doctors who conducted the research believe the reasons for this are complex, but that suffering after giving birth to boys could be based on the attitude towards the men in their lives.
The team discovered that, even if women did not have postnatal depression, giving birth to a boy was significantly more likely to reduce their quality of life than having a girl.
They measured this using a validated questionnaire covering 36 points including health, physical functioning, physical role, bodily pain, mental health, emotional role, social functioning, vitality and general health.
Women who had given birth to boys scored lower in 70% of these areas than those who had girls.
A total of 17 of the women in the study suffered severe depression, thirteen of these had had boys and four had girls.
‘The trend showed up very clearly,’ said lead researcher Professor Claude de Tychey, from Universite Nancy 2 in northern France.
He stressed that the study was carried out in a French town where women faced no cultural pressures about the sex of their baby.
Along with psychoanalytical theories behind the reason why boys may make mums suffer more, the study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing, also suggests that modern mothers see male babies as more ‘difficult’.
Post-natal depression is a common problem in the UK, affecting an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 new mothers each year.
Professor de Tychey said: ‘Post-natal depression is very common and poses a major public health problem, especially if it is not diagnosed and treated.
‘When we launched our research, our main aim was to study the effect that gender has on PND.
‘The overwhelming finding was the fact that gender appears to play a significant role in reduced quality of life as well as an increased chance of severe PND.’