April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Mothers who deliver two or more babies are more likely to have developed moderate to severe depression within nine months of giving birth than mothers who have a single baby, say U.S. researchers who analyzed data from a nationally representative survey of children born in 2001.
"Our findings suggest that 19 percent of mothers of multiples had moderate to severe depressive symptoms nine months after delivery, compared to 16 percent among mothers of singletons," the study's lead author, Yoonjoung Choi, a research associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a Hopkins news release.
"Mothers with a history of hospitalization due to mental health problems or a history of alcohol or drug abuse also had significantly increased odds," Choi said. "Non-Hispanic black mothers had higher odds compared to non-Hispanic white mothers. Mothers who were currently married, Hispanic or with a high household socioeconomic status were less likely to have depressive symptoms."
The data, taken from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study -- Birth Cohort, also show that only 27 percent of all mothers with symptoms of depression said they had talked with a mental health specialist or a general medical provider about their symptoms.
The researchers said their study, published in the April 1 issue of the journal Pediatrics, shows that pediatric professionals have to pay more attention to postpartum depression among new mothers.
"The low numbers of women receiving mental health counseling despite symptoms reinforces the need for facilitating better referral of patients with depressive symptoms," Dr. Cynthia Minkovitz, an associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health and senior author of the study, said in the news release.
"Pediatric practices should make an additional effort to educate new and expecting parents of multiples regarding their increased risk for maternal postpartum depression," Minkovitz said. "Furthermore, well-child visits are potentially valuable opportunities to provide education, screening and referrals for postpartum depression among mothers of multiples."
Such efforts, she said, require "linkages between pediatric and adult systems of care and adequate community mental health resources."
SOURCE: Johns Hopkins University, news release, March 30, 2009