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The Impact of Maternal Depression During Pregnancy on Perinatal Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(4):e321-e341

Objective: Depression often remains undertreated during pregnancy and there is growing evidence that untoward perinatal outcomes can result. Our systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted to determine whether maternal depression during pregnancy is associated with adverse perinatal and infant outcomes.

Data Sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PsycINFO were searched from their start dates to June 2010. Keywords utilized included depressive/mood disorder, postpartum/postnatal, pregnancy/pregnancy trimesters, prenatal or antenatal, infant/neonatal outcomes, premature delivery, gestational age, birth weight, NICU, preeclampsia, breastfeeding, and Apgar.

Study Selection: English language studies reporting on perinatal or child outcomes associated with maternal depression were included, 3,074 abstracts were reviewed, 735 articles retrieved, and 30 studies included.

Data Extraction: Two independent reviewers extracted data and assessed article quality. All studies were included in the primary analyses, and between-group differences for subanalyses are also reported.

Results: Thirty studies were eligible for inclusion. Premature delivery and decrease in breastfeeding initiation were significantly associated with maternal depression (odds ratio [OR] = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.04 to1.81; P = .024; and OR = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.61 to 0.76; P < .0001, respectively). While birth weight (mean difference = −19.53 g; 95% CI, −64.27 to 25.20; P = .392), low birth weight (OR = 1.21; 95% CI, 0.91 to 1.60; P = .195), neonatal intensive care unit admissions (OR = 1.43; 95% CI, 0.83 to 2.47; P = .195), and preeclampsia (OR = 1.35; 95% CI, 0.95 to 1.92; P = .089) did not show significant associations in the main analyses, some subanalyses were significant. Gestational age (mean difference = −0.19 weeks; 95% CI, −0.53 to 0.14; P = .262) and Apgar scores at 1 (mean difference = −0.05; 95% CI, −0.28 to 0.17; P = .638) and 5 minutes (mean difference = 0.01; 95% CI, −0.08 to 0.11; P = .782) did not demonstrate any significant associations with depression. For premature delivery, a convenience sample study design was associated with higher ORs (OR = 2.43; 95% CI, 1.47 to 4.01; P = .001).

Conclusions: Maternal depression during pregnancy is associated with increased odds for premature delivery and decreased breastfeeding initiation; however, the effects are modest. More research of higher methodological quality is needed.

J Clin Psychiatry 2013;74(4):e321–e341

Submitted: June 21, 2012; accepted October 31, 2012 (doi:10.4088/JCP.12r07968).

Corresponding author: Sophie Grigoriadis, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Women’s Mood and Anxiety Clinic: Reproductive Transitions, Department of Psychiatry, FG 29, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5 (