Severe Morning Sickness Linked to Depression, New Study Finds

Dawn O'Shea

October 19, 2020

Severe morning sickness increases the risk of depression both during and after pregnancy, new research published in  BMJ Open  has found.

The two-point prospective case-control survey study collected antenatal (AN) and postnatal (PN) data from 106 pregnant women at ≤12 completed weeks gestation with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) recruited consecutively over two years at three London hospitals. Control participants (108) were recruited from a low-risk AN clinic.

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was used to screen for symptoms of depression in the AN and PN periods.

Antenatally, 49.4 per cent of cases had probable depression compared with 6.3 per cent of control participants (OR, 14.44; 95% CI, 5.29-39.44). Postnatally, 29.1 per cent of cases had probable depression versus 7.0 per cent of control participants (OR, 5.33; 95% CI, 1.65-17.21).

Additionally, for the first time, the research team assessed infant bonding in the PN period, using a specifically designed questionnaire to assess the psychosocial implications of HG, including the socio-economic consequences to women and their families.

There was no direct association between HG and infant bonding. Half (53%) of women in the HG group reported needing four or more weeks of sick leave compared with 2 per cent in the control group (OR, 60.57; 95% CI, 8.43-2535.63). The median score in the HG group was 1, with a range of 0-5. In the control group, the median score was 1, with a range of 0-6 (P=.407).

Mitchell-Jones N, Lawson K, Bobdiwala S, Farren JA, Tobias A, Bourne T, Bottomley C. Association between hyperemesis gravidarum and psychological symptoms, psychosocial outcomes and infant bonding: a two-point prospective case–control multicentre survey study in an inner city setting. BMJ Open. 2020 Oct 13. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039715 View full text

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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