01 Feb Oxytocin During Labor Linked to Increased Risk of Postpartum Depression
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Kristina M. Deligiannidis, MD
Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
Director, Women’s Behavioral Health
Zucker Hillside Hospital Northwell Health
Psychiatry and Obstetrics & Gynecology
Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Because of effects on social behavior, including maternal behavior, oxytocin has often been seen as a potential mediator of postpartum depression and anxiety.
The original objective of our study was to examine the relationship between the use of synthetic oxytocin during and after labor and the development of depressive and anxiety disorders within the first year postpartum. We hypothesized that women exposed to synthetic oxytocin before or during labor would have a reduced risk of postpartum depressive and anxiety disorders compared with those without any exposure. Our findings told the opposite story.
We found that peripartum synthetic oxytocin exposure was associated with an increase in risk for the development of postpartum depression and anxiety.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Postpartum depression is common. The underlying biology and risk factors for postpartum depressive and anxiety disorders require further research so that women at risk can be identified early, before the disorder develops. Known risk factors for postpartum depression include a history of depression or anxiety during pregnancy, previous perinatal loss, stressful life events and low social support, however treatments given around labor could also contribute to the risk of suffering from postpartum depression and/or serve as novel predictive factors.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Since synthetic oxytocin is such an important and commonly used medicine for peripartum women, we recommend that future research examine how synthetic oxytocin may impact the regulation of natural oxytocin, maternal mood and lactation. Future studies should examine dose, duration, timing and reason for synthetic oxytocin treatment so that we can better identify which factors may place women at risk for developing postpartum depression and anxiety. Better identification of factors that place women at risk could significantly decrease the number of women who suffer with postpartum depression.
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Kroll-Desrosiers A, Nephew BC, Babb JA, Guilarte-Walker Y, Moore Simas TA, Deligiannidis KM. (2017) “Association of peripartum synthetic oxytocin administration and depressive and anxiety disorders within the first postpartum year.” Depression and Anxiety, in press,DOI: 10.1002/da.22599; NIHMS ID839499.
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