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Original Research

Prevalence of Maternal Depressive Symptoms in Low-Income Hispanic Women

Linda H. Chaudron, MD, MS; Harriet J. Kitzman, RN, PhD; Karen L. Peifer, PhD; Scott Morrow, MD, MPH, MBA, FACPM; Linda M. Perez, PhD; and Mary C. Newman, LCSW

Published: April 15, 2005

Article Abstract

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.

Volume: 66

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