Women with a family history of psychiatric disorders have a nearly 2-fold higher risk for developing postpartum depression, according to an analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry.
While studies have examined the family history of postpartum depression (PPD), only a few small studies have examined the link between psychiatric disorders and postpartum depression. To gain insight, the researchers looked for relevant studies on family history of psychiatric disorders and PPD in PubMed, Embase, and PsycINFO with no restrictions on date or language.
The database search retrieved 4239 articles and researchers included 25 in the analysis. They found increased odds of PPD in women with a family history of psychiatric disorders (OR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.67-2.59; I2=57.14%), which corresponds to a relative risk of 1.79 (95% CI, 1.52-2.09), assuming a 15% prevalence of PPD in the general population they reported. The estimate for PPD in the first 12 weeks postpartum was not statistically different from PPD in later months.
“Our findings are supported through studies of heritability of psychiatric disorders within, but especially outside, the postpartum period, indicating family history of psychiatric disorders is a strong risk factor for developing psychiatric episodes,” researchers stated.
Although they can’t report with any certainty, researchers suspect the connection stems from genetics and a lack of social support. “Next steps could focus on how and when to screen for family history of psychiatric disorders while also considering how these screening questions will fit with existing screening practices,” they added.
Researchers admit that much of the data was self-reported and the question phrasing was inconsistent across studies, which likely affected the results. Under-reporting of familial psychiatric disorders may have also affected the outcome. That said, it’s important information to acquire, they conclude. “Information on family history of psychiatric disorders is easy to identify through simple self-reported question(s), potentially as part of routine perinatal care, and early identification makes timely and targeted intervention possible to prevent PPD or mitigate the consequences thereof.”
Kjeldsen MZ, Bricca A, Liu X, Frokjaer VG, Madsen KB, Munk-Olsen T. Family history of psychiatric disorders as a risk factor for maternal postpartum depression: a systematic review protocol. Syst Rev. 2022;11(1):68. doi:10.1186/s13643-022-01952-1