Potential Link between Premature Birth and Paternal Depression

 26th May 2016

New research undergone in Sweden has concluded there is a strong link between paternal depression and premature child birth, otherwise known as ‘preterm birth’.

Preterm birth occurs when a child is born prior to the 37th week of pregnancy and can cause a large number of short and long term health defects.

These include, but are not limited to, serious breathing problems (sometimes requiring the use of life support equipment) and the development of disorders such as cerebral palsy.

Preterm birth is now the most common cause of infant death across the world with around 15 million babies being delivered prematurely.

The study (conducted by researchers at the University of Stockholm and the Karolinska Institutet) involved the analysis of 366,499 births, with data being obtained Medical Birth Register of Sweden.

In addition, researchers have also discovered preterm births are more likely to occur when mothers are suffering from depression either before or during pregnancy.

The studies show there is a 38% higher chance of a moderately preterm birth occurring when the father is suffering from depression and, for mothers suffering from the same mental health illness, there was a 34% higher chance of a moderately preterm birth.

For reference, a ‘moderately preterm birth’ is one which occurs between the 31st and 34th weeks of pregnancy and a ‘vey preterm birth’ occurs between the 27th and 30th weeks.

Despite finding this strong, it is difficult to attribute premature births to depression entirely as there are a number of factors consider.

The findings do suggest, however, that depression amongst expectant fathers may increase the likelihood of a premature birth as mothers with depressed partners can experience higher levels of stress as a result of lack of social support.

Furthermore, the researchers have suggested that the results could be implicative of a decline in the quality of sperm for men who are suffering from depression.

Researchers involved in the study suggest a standalone trial should be completed to extend the validity of their findings as, despite a strong connection being found, it is impossible to declare depression as being a definite cause for premature births given the type of study.

Depression is the most common mental health illness globally and affects a huge 20% of the worldwide population. There are many different treatments available including a variety of therapies and many people are able to improve their condition and even recover entirely.

Encompass provide a wide range of specialist services deigned to greatly improve the lives of people living with either an enduring mental health condition or learning disability.

Find out how our experienced, caring team can help you or a loved one by clicking here.
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