MADISON, Wis. – A woman with a history of poor mental health is eight times more likely to have the problem occur during pregnancy, a recent study shows.
Dr. Whitney Witt and colleagues examined data on 3,051 pregnant women and found that those who had previous mental health problems – such as anxiety and depression – had the highest risk of experiencing poor mental health while they were expecting.
“This study shows that the mother’s previous mental health really matters,” says Witt, assistant professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Other factors that increased the women’s risk included having poor physical health during pregnancy and being unmarried, which can indicate a lack of social support.
More attention should be paid to mental health screening for all women of reproductive age regardless of their pregnancy status, says Witt, “but especially for women before they become pregnant since it is such an important risk factor.”
Continuity of care is vital, she adds.
“Women’s mental health should be monitored and treated appropriately over the lifecourse,” she says.
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