Scientists have discovered a blood marker that could help determine the women who might be at risk for postpartum depression, ever since before they give birth, so that they could be prepared for what is likely to come.
Postpartum depression is a very frequent condition that affects a significant number of women every year. As many as one in seven women find themselves battling this condition after they give birth. And while being overwhelmed by the coming of a new baby is quite a normal reaction, women suffering from postpartum depression do not seem to be able to overcome that feeling.
Thus, the most common thoughts associated with condition are of excessive worrying about the ability to care for the new baby and the significant feeling off guilt when doing anything else that is not related to the baby. Also, the condition could evolve with the mothers feeling numb and unable to connect with the new baby, precisely because the they feel overwhelmed by the entire situation.
While women who have suffered from depressive episodes before becoming mothers are particularly prone to developing postpartum depression as well, the conditions occurs quite frequently among women who have never experienced depression beforehand. Research has revealed that oxytocin, a hormone heavily implicated in pregnancy and birth, might also have a major role in the development of postpartum depression.
A team of researchers from several American and British universities lead by a researcher from the University of Virginia decided to look closer at the oxytocin receptors, in order to verify if this has a role to play in the development of the condition. It seems that they have been able to identify a marker in the blood that could be linked to the postpartum depression.
“Our work emphasizes its importance in the human maternal condition and places the epigenetic regulation of the oxytocin receptor at the forefront,” says C. Sue Carter, Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute chairman and a co-author of this study.
The present study was conducted on a sample population from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, from Britain. This part of the study was coordinated by University of Bristol researcher Jean Golding. However, the team has expressed the need for carrying out the study on several other populations, so as to get a wider overview of the situation.
Despite the fact that there is still quite a lot of future testing to be conducted, the team hopes that “the oxytocin receptor marker we have identified will be useful to clinicians in identifying women at risk for postpartum depression”, said study author Aleeca Bell, a researcher at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
It remains to be seen if future research could corroborate the researchers’ findings, as having time to develop a plan to fight postpartum depression before giving birth would be of tremendous help to mothers.
Image Source: modernpregnancytips