Women who deliver a stillbirth—but who have no history of depression—may be at a higher risk for long-lasting depression, conclude researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The depression may last beyond the six months most people require to recover from a major loss and persist for as long as 36 months.
The findings were published online in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology by researchers in the NIH’s Stillbirth Collaborate Research Network (SCRN), which seeks to understand the causes of stillbirth, improve reporting of stillbirths that have occurred, and develop ways to prevent stillbirth. According to SCRN, stillbirth is the death of a baby at or after the 20th week of pregnancy. It occurs in 1 out of 160 pregnancies in the United States. Since 2003, the stillbirth rate has remained at about 26,000 each year.
“This study is the first to show definitively that women who have no history of depression may face a risk for depression many months after a stillbirth,” said study author Marian Willinger, Ph.D., of the NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which supports the SCRN and participates in its research. “The findings suggest that women who have had a stillbirth may require longer term monitoring for depressive illness and referral for treatment when they need it.”
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