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July 16, 2018

Pregnant millennials may be more depressed than previous generation, study finds

Mental Health Depression
02032018_pregnant_women_Unsplash Photo by Camila Cordeiro/via Unsplash

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Pregnant millennials may be suffering from depression at higher rates than their mothers did in the early 1990s, according to a new study.

Researchers in the United Kingdom found that prenatal depression is 51 percent more common among pregnant millennial women than during their mother's generation 25 years ago.

The findings were published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The findings highlight the need for increased screening and resources to support young pregnant women and minimize the potentially far-reaching impact of depression on mothers, their children and future generations," the researchers wrote.

The study compared prenatal depressive symptoms in two generations of women who participated in a longitudinal cohort study. 

The first group included women who were pregnant between 1990 and 1992. The second group comprised the first group's female children and the female partners of their male children. The second group became pregnant between 2012 and 2016.

The members of both groups were born in Southwest England and became pregnant between the ages of 19 and 24.

The younger generation recorded higher levels of depression based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, a self-reported survey taken by both groups during their pregnancies.

Among the millennial group, 25 percent reported high depressive symptoms – a notable jump from the older group, of which 17 percent reported high depressive symptoms.

The researchers cautioned that more research is necessary, noting several limitations.

For one, the average age of motherhood is higher today than it was during the 1990s. The pregnant millennials in the study are having children at a younger age than their peers, a factor the older group did not face.

That "may result in more social isolation or stigma" and possibly contribute to the increased depression levels, the authors wrote.

Previous research found that 10 to 15 percent of women experienced depression during pregnancy.