UMHS’s Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S., has been studying pregnancy-related depression for a number of years. More recently, her research has taken her to Ghana and early findings are beginning to gain international attention.
Voice of America this month highlighted the work that Gold and her colleagues have been doing on postpartum depression of Ghanaian mothers, in particular those with sick babies. The UMHS authors found that, in Ghana, mothers who have sick babies are much more likely to suffer from postpartum depression, and that the mothers’ depression puts their children at much greater health risk.
In the Voice of America audio clip, Gold says “We know that depression in pregnancy and postpartum can affect the pregnancy outcome. It can affect how the baby attaches with mom. It can affect things like the baby’s well-being. But in low-income countries, if mom is depressed it also affects the infant’s health. And it appears to affect diarrheal diseases, respiratory illnesses, their growth. It has significant health effects. So it really can be a life and death situation for babies in these low-income countries.”
There is a great deal of evidence in high-income countries that when a mother suffers from postpartum depression, her child is also negatively affected. However, in many lower-income countries, little is known about postpartum depression and access to appropriate mental health services are severely lacking. In Ghana, for instance, there are fewer than 10 psychiatrists in a country of 25 million people. The research team believes that the early findings of their work in Ghana can be applied to many low-income countries.
Gold is an assistant professor of family medicine and of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Read the full Voice of America article and listen to a clip from Dr. Gold’s interview here: http://www.voanews.com/content/ghana-depression-10jan13/1581363.html.
Read more on the UMHS study here: http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201301/postpartum-depression-prevalent-under-developed-countries