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Mental Health Problems After First Baby Reduce Likelihood of More Children: Study
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted April 3, 2020

Mental Health Problems After First Baby Reduce Likelihood of More Children: Study

Women who develop mental health problems after delivering their first child are much less likely to have more, a Danish study finds.

But this is not the case among women whose first child died.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on more than 414,000 women in Denmark who had a first live birth between 1997 and 2015. About 1% developed problems such as depression, anxiety, mania and schizophrenia within six months after the birth.

Sixty-nine percent of these women went on to have a second child, compared to 82% of mothers who had no mental health issues after their first live birth, the investigators found.

Study leader Xiaoqin Liu said researchers need to figure out why 31% of mothers who had postpartum mental health issues did not have another child. "If they avoided another pregnancy due to fear of relapse, an important clinical message to them is that prevention of relapse is possible," she said.

Liu is a post-doctoral researcher at the National Center for Register-Based Research at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Among women whose first child died, those with postpartum mental health problems were as likely to have more children as those without mental health problems, according to the study published March 29 in the journal Human Reproduction.

The study also found that if a first-time mother had to be hospitalized for a postpartum mental health condition, her likelihood of having a second child fell by nearly half, whether her first child survived or not.

"Women whose first child died were nearly four times as likely to have a subsequent live birth as women whose first child survived," Liu said in a journal news release. "These findings suggest that the overall reduced rate of subsequent live births among women who experienced psychiatric disorders after the birth of their first child is, at least in part, voluntary."

More information

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has more on postpartum disorders.

SOURCE: Human Reproduction, news release, March 29, 2020
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