Gestational diabetes link with postpartum depression

By Hollie Ewers on 05 September 2018 Postnatal Depression Diabetes

Mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have an elevated risk of developing postpartum depression symptoms, according to a new research.

The newly published study used the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to assess depression symptoms during the third trimester of pregnancy and eight weeks after birth.

Postpartum depression symptoms were observed in 16% of mothers diagnosed with GDM, and in approximately 9% of mothers without GDM. 

Statistical methods were used to adjust the results for other factors contributing to the risk of GDM and postpartum depression symptoms, such as maternal age at time of birth, BMI and depression symptoms experienced during pregnancy. 

Conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Helsinki, Kuopio University Hospital and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, the study pooled data from Kuopio Birth Cohort (KBC) – an ongoing follow-up of women from the beginning of their pregnancy. Altogether, 1066 mothers with no previous mental health issues were selected for the study.

Study author and doctoral student Aleksi Ruohomäki said: ‘Psychological mechanisms may partially explain the observed association between GDM and postpartum depression symptoms. Being diagnosed during pregnancy with a disease that might harm the fetus can be a stressful experience, which may predispose to depression symptoms.’

Dr Soili Lehto, group leader of KBC’s mental wellbeing section said that physiological mechanisms may also contribute to this association: ‘Impaired glucose metabolism may increase cytokine mediated low-grade inflammation, which has also been associated with depression. Previous studies have also shown that type 2 diabetes predisposes to depression, and depression to type 2 diabetes.’

The findings were reported in Journal of Affective Disorders. Access the study here.