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Aurora magazine

Is there a link between inflammation and postpartum depression?

Professor Eric Achtyes of the University of Michigan conducted a new study on postpartum depression. From what has emerged, the onset of inflammation during and immediately after pregnancy could be linked to the phenomenon. The link between the two is not yet entirely clear, though.

Inflammations play an essential role in pregnancy. In the early stages of pregnancy, they serve to defend the embryo from the mother's immune system. Under normal conditions, they should vanish in a short time, once they are no longer needed. However, it happens that the inflammatory reactions last longer than expected, with perhaps also consequences on the psychological health of the mother.

After giving birth, it is normal to experience a drop in mood. The phenomenon is called "baby blues" and should not be confused with the much more serious post-partum depression. The latter is a medical condition that can worsen in a short time and also require hospitalization of the new mother.

Postpartum depression affects about 1 woman every 5, which makes it a more common disorder than is believed. Nevertheless, it is a problem that is still little understood, which often has its roots during pregnancy. The first symptoms tend to occur in the last weeks of gestation, worsening after delivery. In 14% of cases, it even causes suicidal thoughts. According to the authors of the study, inflammation could be one of the causes.

The researchers analyzed the blood of 165 pregnant patients. In some of these they have identified several inflammatory factors, with high levels of cytosine. Furthermore, scientists observed a drastic reduction in serotonin. Both appear to be linked to an increased risk of postpartum depression.