Genes play a role in Post-Partum Depression.
As reported in UPI, researchers at the University of Virginia recently completed a longitudinal study of over 14,000 pregnant women, which demonstrated the existence of genetic indicators for the development of Post-Partum Depression.
The results of the study, which were published in the scientific journal frontiers in Genetics, found a relationship between a particular genotype (rs53576), the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), and the occurrence of Post-Partum Depression. Oxytocin is a hormone released in large amounts during childbirth and breastfeeding, and is known to play an important role in maternal behavior.
Although Post-Partum Depression (PPD) affects an estimated 9-16% of postpartum mothers, its causes are still not well understood. The most commonly-used predictor of whether a woman will develop PPD is whether she is depressed during the pregnancy. However, there are many women that are not depressed during pregnancy that still go on to develop PPD.
Interestingly, the study found that women who did not show depressive symptoms during pregnancy, but who did have the rs53579 genotype in addition to a particular expression of the OXTR, were up to three times more likely to develop PPD than women without such genotype.
“We can greatly improve the outcome of this disorder with the identification of markers, biological or otherwise, that can identify women who may be at risk for its development,” says Jessica Connelly, senior author of the study and an assistant professor of Psychology at University of Virginia.