Pregnant/postpartum women report higher depression, post-tra
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In a worldwide survey, pregnant and postpartum women reported high levels of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to researchers. Such high levels of distress may have potential implications for women and for fetal and child health and development, according to the study.

Investigators were interested in pregnant and postpartum women because prior research suggests that perinatal mental health problems can adversely impact not only women's own health but also infant outcomes, mother-infant bonding, and children's health over time. To gauge the mental health of pregnant and postpartum women during the pandemic, the researchers conducted an anonymous, online, cross-sectional survey of women in 64 countries.

--Of the 6,894 participants, substantial proportions of women scored at or above the cutoffs in widely-used psychological screening tools for elevated levels of anxiety/depression (31%), loneliness (53%), and post-traumatic stress in relation to COVID-19 (43%), despite the fact that only 117 women (2%) had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 510 (7%) had been in contact with someone with COVID-19.

--The levels of psychiatric distress were significantly higher than previously published data on such distress in the general population during the pandemic and among pregnant and postpartum women before the pandemic.

--Certain factors were linked with worse mental health among the women surveyed. Seeking information about the pandemic five or more times a day from any source was associated with more than twice the odds of elevated post-traumatic stress in relation to COVID-19 and anxiety/depression.

--Worries about children and childcare and economic worries were also important factors in women's mental health.

"In addition to screening and monitoring mental health symptoms, addressing potentially modifiable factors such as excessive information seeking and women's worries about access to medical care and their children's well-being, and developing strategies to target loneliness, such as online support groups, should be part of intervention efforts for perinatal women," the author said.