Parenting

Blood test may identify postpartum risk

Moms-to-be may soon be able to take a test that will predict whether they'll succumb to severe anxiety and/or depression after giving birth.

Photo: PhotoTalk/iStockphoto

Worried you’ll be plagued by postpartum depression?

Moms-to-be may soon be able to take a test that will predict whether they’ll succumb to severe anxiety and/or depression after giving birth.

According to The Telegraph, scientists have developed a test that can identify two genes in DNA that “may signal the onset of the condition, and could provide early warnings of the debilitating sadness, irritability, depression and loss of appetite that affect almost one in five new mothers within weeks of giving birth.

Blood tests on 52 expectant mothers predicted the onset of post-natal depression with 85 percent accuracy. By taking into account other information from the blood test meant that its accuracy increased to 96 percent in a small group of women.”

The study found women with these genes appear to be more susceptible to the effects of pregnancy hormones on the brain, which means they may have a harder time handling the stress of parenthood (night-feedings, colic, relationship stress…).
If an expectant mother can confirm the genes via this test, she’ll hopefully be more prepared to ask for help — and diagnosis her feelings as postpartum depression — should her mental health suffer after baby arrives. So many new moms try to act tough and brush off uneasy feelings so hopefully a test like this will empower woman to take action. Experts hope the test will be available in as little as two years (though, it’s unknown if/when Canada will approve the screening).

Also, I can’t help but wonder what this means for men: Is there a way to screen for this condition in new dads?

Also read: Postpartum depression in dads>