Postpartum Depressive Symptoms during the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Examination of Population Birth Data from Central New Jersey

Michael J. McFarland, Cheryl A.S. McFarland, Terrence D. Hill, Robyn D’Oria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: To examine the mental health of women in the perinatal period prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We use provisional vital statistics data for births occurring in the central region of New Jersey. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is employed to assess depressive symptoms. Our focal analysis uses linear regression models to test whether giving birth during the pandemic is associated with elevated depressive symptoms. All analyses are performed using time-matched (September 2019-April 2020; n = 18,531) and month-matched (January 2019-April 2019 and January 2020- April 2020; n = 18,346) samples. Results: Women who gave birth in March and not in April reported higher levels of depressive symptoms than those who gave birth prior to the pandemic in our time-matched (b = 0.09) and month-matched (b = 0.09) samples. The magnitude of this association is approximately one-third the magnitude of the association between preterm birth and depressive symptoms. Conclusion: These findings suggest that researchers and practitioners should pay special attention to signs of postpartum depression and women’s adaptive coping responses in the early stages of pandemics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-359
Number of pages7
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Antenatal screening
  • COVID-19
  • Postpartum depression
  • Vital statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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