Is big city living a bad idea for new mothers?
City dwellers may have more to worry about than smog, traffic and crime, especially if they’re a new mom, researchers say.
According to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, mothers who live in cities may be at a higher risk for postpartum depression than those who live elsewhere.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 10 and 15 percent of women develop persistent, serious depression during the first years after their baby’s birth. Mothers may feel worthless, hopeless and may want to hurt themselves or the baby.
To understand the influence of place of residence on postpartum depression, researchers looked at data for nearly 6,500 women living in rural, semi-rural, semi-urban and urban areas.
Overall, nearly eight percent of the women surveyed developed postpartum depression, with women from urban areas at the greatest risk. Almost 10 percent of urban moms reported postpartum depression compared to six percent of women in rural areas, seven percent in semirural areas and five percent in semiurban areas.
Cities had higher numbers of immigration populations, and more women in these areas reported lower levels of social support during and after pregnancy. That support is crucial for new moms, study leaders said.
“The risk factors for postpartum depression – including history of depression, social support and immigration status – that were unequally distributed across geographical regions accounted for most of the variance in the rates of postpartum depression,” said study co-author Dr. Simone Vigod, in a news release.
Many new moms first turn to their families for help, but if your loved ones are out of state, or even out of the county, there are other sources of support available, says Dr. Robert Rosenberg, medical director of obstetrics and gynecology at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.
He recommends looking to available new mother support groups close to home.
“Communities and hospitals often offer education, classes and groups for new moms,” says Dr. Rosenberg. “Getting involved helps to strengthen social support and prevent isolation.”
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