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Prevalence of Maternal Depressive Symptoms in Low-Income Hispanic Women

J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(4):418-423

Background: Maternal depression can have significant repercussions for the health and well-being of mothers and children. In primarily white middle-income populations, approximately 15% of mothers experience depression. Among ethnically and socioeconomically diverse populations, the prevalence of maternal depression has not been as well established. However, the highest rates have been observed among low-income women. Because information about minority, underserved women is particularly sparse, we utilize data from the San Mateo County, California, Prenatal to Three project to describe the prevalence and self-recognition of depressive symptoms among low-income Hispanic mothers of infants and toddlers.

Method: Telephone interviews of a random sample of women who received Medicaid and gave birth in San Mateo County provided our sample of 218 nonpregnant Hispanic mothers. High levels of depressive symptoms were defined as a score of > = 10 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). We performed descriptive analyses and analyses of variance.

Results: Twenty-three percent of mothers reported high levels of depressive symptoms. Half of them recognized a need for help with depression.

Conclusions: High levels of maternal depressive symptoms were prevalent among the Hispanic women on Medicaid, but only half of the women experiencing these symptoms identified themselves as needing help with depression.