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Blood test for postnatal depression

11th May 2012

Scientists believe that a simple blood test could help identify women most at risk of suffering from postnatal depression.


Researchers at Warwick Medical School discovered that women who developed postnatal depression (PND) were more likely to have variants of two receptor genes involved in the body’s stress response.

With one in seven women experiencing the condition - which usually appears a couple of weeks after giving birth - the research team believe that the new blood test will help lead to earlier treatment.

Current screening of PND relies on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score (EPDS), however, this test cannot identify the women most at risk, ahead of them developing the condition.

It is often a midwife or relative who begins to notice symptoms, though many new mums are reluctant to admit they have PND.

During the study, the Warwick team assessed 200 pregnant women for PND using the EPDS during their first visit to the ante-natal clinic and again two to eight weeks after they had given birth.

Those who developed PND were more likely to have a DNA sequence variation in two receptor genes (the glucocorticoid receptor and the corticotrophin-releasing hormone receptor-1).

Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulos, who presented the team’s research to the International Congress of Endocrinology, said: “We think that we have made an important step forward in characterising the prospective risks and are therefore paving the way for timely, appropriate medical treatment for women who are likely to develop PND.”

The team now plans to carry out further research with a multi-centre study.


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