Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 17th 2017 Contents sion. They also found no link between the
third-trimester levels of allopregnanolone
and postpartum depression. However, they
did notice a link between postpartum de-
pression and diminished levels of allopreg-
nanolone levels in the second trimester.
(Johns Hopkins Medicine)
A28 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Friday, March 17, 2017
In a small-scale study of women with previ-
ously diagnosed mood disorders, Johns Hopkins
researchers report that lower levels of the hor-
mone allopregnanolone in the second trimester
of pregnancy were associated with an increased
chance of developing postpartum depression
in women already known to be at risk for the
In a report on the study, published online on March
7 in Psychoneuroendocrinology, the researchers say
the findings could lead to diagnostic markers and pre-
ventive strategies for the condition, which strikes an
estimated 15 to 20 per cent of American women who
The researchers caution that theirs was an obser-
vational study in women already diagnosed with a
mood disorder and/or taking antidepressants or mood
stabilisers, and does not establish cause and effect
between the progesterone metabolite and postpar-
tum depression. But it does, they say, add to evidence
that hormonal disruptions during pregnancy point
to opportunities for intervention.
Postpartum depression affects early bonding be-
tween the mother and child. Untreated, it has po-
tentially devastating and even lethal consequences
for both. Infants of women with the disorder may
be neglected and have trouble eating, sleeping and
developing normally, and an estimated 20 per cent
of postpartum maternal deaths are thought to be
due to suicide, according to the National Institute
of Mental Health.
"Many earlier studies haven't shown postpartum
depression to be tied to actual levels of pregnancy
hormones, but rather to an individual's vulnerability
to fluctuations in these hormones, and they didn't
identify any concrete way to tell whether a woman
would develop postpartum depression," says Lauren
Osborne, MD, assistant director of the Johns Hop-
kins Women's Mood Disorders Center and assistant
professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at
the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"For our study, we looked at a high-risk population
of women already diagnosed with mood disorders and
asked what might be making them more susceptible."
For the study, 60 pregnant women between the ages
of 18 and 45 were recruited by investigators at study
sites at Johns Hopkins University and the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. About 70 per cent
were white and 21.5 per cent were African-American.
All women had been previously diagnosed with a mood
disorder, such as major depression or bipolar disorder.
Almost a third had been previously hospitalised due
to complications from their mood disorder, and 73
per cent had more than one mental illness.
During the study, 76 per cent of the participants
used psychiatric medications, including antidepres-
sants or mood stabilisers, and about 75 per cent of the
participants were depressed at some point during the
investigation, either during the pregnancy or shortly
During the second trimester (about 20 weeks preg-
nant) and the third trimester (about 34 weeks preg-
nant), each participant took a mood test and gave 40
millilitres of blood. Forty participants participated
in the second-trimester data collection, and 19 of
these women, or 47.5 per cent, developed postpar-
tum depression at one or three months postpartum.
The participants were assessed and diagnosed by a
Of the 58 women who participated in the third-tri-
mester data collection, 25 of those women, or 43.1 per
cent, developed postpartum depression. Thirty-eight
women participated in both trimester data collections.
Using the blood samples, the researchers measured
the blood levels of progesterone and allopregnanolone,
a byproduct made from the breakdown of progester-
one and known for its calming, anti-anxiety effects.
The researchers found no relationship between
progesterone levels in the second or third trimesters
and the likelihood of developing postpartum depres-
It's not all in your mind. Lower levels of the hormone allopregnanolone in the second
trimester were associated with an increased chance of developing postpartum depression
in women already known to be at risk for the disorder, a new study finds.
Hormone linked to
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