London: Researchers have identified a screening tool that may help diagnose depressive symptoms and other mental disorders in early pregnancy.
The study, published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, indicates that questions typically asked to new mothers to screen for depression after giving birth can also help to detect mental disorders during early pregnancy.
“The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale seems to be a valuable screening tool to detect depressive symptoms as well as other mental disorders during early pregnancy,” said researchers, including Caroline Lilliecreutz from the Linköping University in Sweden.
For the study, the team analysed 2,271 women with questions that are part of what’s called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.
The team found that 85 per cent of women with a score of 13 or higher had one or more mental disorders or risk factors for mental disorders during early pregnancy.
In total, 149 (6.6 per cent) women were found to be screen-positive. The majority (126, 85 per cent) had at least one mental disorder or risk factor for mental disorder, such as depression (36.0 per cent), anxiety (14.8 per cent), or severe fear of childbirth (20.8 per cent).
The screen-positive women were more often smokers (16.1 per cent vs 1.3 per cent), unemployed (19.9 per cent vs 1.3 per cent), or on sick leave (25.3 per cent vs 14.1 per cent) during pregnancy and more often used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor during pregnancy (14.2 per cent vs 2.7 per cent) compared with the screen-negative women.
Among the screen-negative women only three (2 per cent) presented with symptoms of depression during pregnancy.