Depression and risk factors for depression among mothers of sick infants in Kumasi, Ghana

The prevalence of depression in women after delivery (postpartum) in low-income countries is 14 to 50%. The average rate of postpartum depression in Africa is 18%. Children of depressed women are more likely to have infants of low birth weight, stillbirth, and decreased breastfeeding success.

Mothers of infants hospitalized at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Mother Baby Unit were asked to participate by unit nurses.  Medical students asked a survey of 67 questions.  The researchers asked the mothers several questions, including if they had any support at home with the baby, past mental health problems, experienced any physical abuse from their partner, if they had delivered at home or in a hospital, and how good their overall health was. The researchers used a screening tool called PHQ 9 to determine if the mothers were depressed or not and what the severity of their depression was.  The goal of the study was to have more information about the risk factors of depression in women after delivery as well as the rate of postpartum depression in mothers of sick infants in Ghana.

153 women completed the survey.  70% of women had PHQ9 scores suggesting they had depression.  37.4% had moderate to severe depression.  Researchers found that women who had a home birth, did not have help in caring for the baby, history of partner violence, poor personal health status were more likely to be depressed.

Recommendations and Conclusions:
Little or no help caring for the baby at home, poor self-rated health, history of violence between their partner and them, home delivery are important risk factors for postpartum depression in Ghana. Because of the known poorer outcomes of infants born to depressed mothers, effort and resources should be spent on screening, diagnosis, and treatment of maternal and postpartum depression. This study was the largest to date of publication, but still had a small, relatively similar sample population.

Article Title: Depression and risk factors for depression among mothers of sick infants in Kumasi, Ghana.
Authors: Katerhine Gold, Kathryn Spangenberg, Priscilla Wobil, Thomas Schwenk.