First 12 months not the most likely time for maternal depression

While the risk of a woman developing depression after the birth of a first child is well established, very few studies have examined maternal mental health beyond the perinatal period. 

“Comparatively, we know very little about how women’s mental health fares after that period of time,” said Dr Hannah Woolhouse (DPsych), from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne and a senior author of the institute's Maternal Health Study. 

“There is this prevailing view that women are at the greatest risk in the period immediately following birth.”

The prospective study followed 1507 nulliparous women, recruited from six public hospitals in Melbourne between 2003 and 2005 and assessed via questionnaire according to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

The women were all less than 24 weeks pregnant and aged 18 years or older, with an average age of 30 years.