In a study of more than 700,000 women – the largest of its kind to date – researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine and the Karolinska Institutet have discovered that having gestational diabetes increases first-time mothers’ risk of developing postpartum depression, or PPD. The risk of developing PPD is increased further if women with gestational diabetes have experienced depression prior to pregnancy.
‘Most practitioners think of these as two isolated and very different conditions, but we now understand gestational diabetes and postpartum depression should be considered together,’ says Dr Michael E. Silverman, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the lead author of the study. ‘While having diabetes increases PPD risk for all women, for those women who have had a past depressive episode, having diabetes during pregnancy makes it 70 percent more likely that they will develop PPD.’
As postpartum depression can have a negative impact on both mum and baby, identifying past episodes of depression can help doctors intervene earlier. ‘The reason a doctor asks if you smoke is because they know you are 20 times more likely to get cancer if you do,' explains Dr Silverman. 'We believe OB/GYNs should now do the same for depression history. With this information, we can now intervene early, before the mother gives birth.’
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