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Gestational diabetes may increase post birth depression risk

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Mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes have an elevated risk of developing postpartum depression symptoms, according to a new Finnish study.

Researchers noted that postpartum depression symptoms were experienced by 10-15% of mothers after childbirth.

“Psychological mechanisms may partially explain the observed association”

Aleksi Ruohomäki

They also highlighted that previous research evidence was scarce regarding the possible effects of gestational diabetes on postpartum depression symptoms.

Their newly published study used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to assess depression symptoms during the third trimester of pregnancy and eight weeks after delivery.

Postpartum depression symptoms were observed in 16% of mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and in approximately 9% of mothers without out.

The researchers controlled for other factors contributing to diabetes risk and postpartum depression symptoms, such as age at delivery, body mass index and depression symptoms during pregnancy.

Altogether, 1,066 mothers with no previous mental health issues were selected for the study, the findings of which were reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Helsinki, Kuopio University Hospital and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the data comes from an ongoing follow-up study of women from the beginning of their pregnancy.

“Impaired glucose metabolism may increase cytokine mediated low-grade inflammation”

Soili Lehto

Lead study author and doctoral student Aleksi Ruohomäki said: “Psychological mechanisms may partially explain the observed association between gestational diabetes mellitis and postpartum depression symptoms.

“Being diagnosed during pregnancy with a disease that might harm the foetus can be a stressful experience, which may predispose to depression symptoms,” he said.

“Furthermore, physiological mechanisms may also contribute to this association,” he added.

Senior author Dr Soili Lehto said: “Impaired glucose metabolism may increase cytokine mediated low-grade inflammation, which has also been associated with depression.

“Previous studies have also shown that type 2 diabetes predisposes to depression, and depression to type 2 diabetes,” she said.

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