BOSTON — If you want to avoid the baby blues, it’s best to give birth in the spring or winter, a new study finds.
Researchers at the American Society of Anesthesiology reviewed the medical records of over 20,000 women who delivered children between June 2015 and August 2017. A little more than four percent of whom reported experienced postpartum depression (PPD).
While a number of variables were predictors of the development of PPD, the researchers were surprised by the outsized importance that the time of the year that a mother gave birth played.
They attributed decreased PPD during the spring and winter months to a protective mechanism that allowed mothers to spend sufficient time indoors with their newborns.
Meanwhile, other factors identified by the researchers to decrease risk for PPD included higher gestational age (giving birth later during one’s pregnancy term) and lower BMI.
Avoiding anesthesia during labor was also found to increase a woman’s chances.
In terms of any racial disparities, white women, as a whole, were less likely overall to experience low spirits after giving birth.
“We wanted to find out whether there are certain factors influencing the risk of developing postpartum depression that may be avoided to improve women’s health both physically and mentally,” explains lead study author Dr. Jie Zhou of his team’s inquiry in a press release.
PPD can result in a wide variety of symptoms, including sadness, restlessness, and diminished ability to concentrate, the researchers note.
Left to its own devices, it can adversely impact the relationship a mother has with her infant, and cause distress among her entire immediate family.
While the newfound seasonal risk of developing PPD may be most captivating, another temporal aspect— a mother’s gestational age— may be a better predictor of its onset.
“It is expected that the mother will do better and be less mentally stressed when delivering a mature, healthy baby,” Zhou says.
“The significant difference in the risk of developing PPD between Caucasian and other populations may be due to differences in socioeconomic status among these ethnicities,” he adds. “White women with increased BMI needed more hospital-based maternal outpatient follow-ups and had more pregnancy-related complications, which could affect maternal outlook.”
The study’s findings were presented at the Anesthesiology 2017 annual meeting in October.