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Anemia raises risk of postpartum depression: Japanese research team

TOKYO -- A research team here has released a report from a survey showing that anemic women are at an approximately 60% higher risk than non-anemic women to develop postpartum depression.

The team at the National Center for Child Health and Development believes that the high likelihood of anemic women developing postpartum depression is due to overall fatigue and the difficulty of recovering from fatigue as a result of anemia, and the dip in drive and morale that originates from that.

Postpartum depression is said to be one of the most common reasons that pregnant and nursing women die by suicide. The team that conducted the survey believes that treating women's anemia could possibly suppress the symptoms of postpartum depression.

The survey was conducted between 2011 and 2013 at the National Center for Child Health and Development in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward. Of the women who gave birth there during that period, 977 women -- with an average age of 36 -- whose blood test results were available for mid-pregnancy, late pregnancy and postpartum, and who were screened for depression one month after giving birth, were covered in the survey.

Women with anemia accounted for 19.8% (193 women) in mid-pregnancy, 44.5% (435 women) in late pregnancy, and 44.2% (432 women) one month after giving birth. In addition, 20.1% (196 women) developed postpartum depression. Women who were anemic after giving birth were 1.63 times more likely to develop postpartum depression than women who were not anemic.

"It is of great significance that we can assess the risk (of postpartum depression) with an objective index like a blood test," said Kohei Ogawa, an obstetrician at the National Center for Child Health and Development. "It's important that anemia be treated, even if it is a light case."

(Japanese original by Suzuko Araki, Science & Environment News Department)

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