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Blood markers can predict depression in pregnancy

Signs of inflammation in the blood can reliably predict and identify severe depression in pregnancy, reports a new study.

The team’s analysis established a set of 15 biological markers found in the blood that can predict if pregnant women will experience significant depressive symptoms with 83% accuracy.

The findings could give physicians a much-needed tool to identify women who may be at risk of depression and better tailor their care throughout pregnancy.

Nearly one in five new mothers experience severe depression during or after pregnancy, it is reported, and an estimated 14% have suicidal thoughts.

Inflammation can lead to worsening depressive symptoms, and pregnancy is a major inflammatory event.

Lena Brundin, study co-author, said: “Depression isn’t just something that happens in the brain – its fingerprints are everywhere, including our blood. The ability to predict pregnancy-related depression and its severity will be a gamechanger for protecting the health of mothers and their infants. Our findings are an important leap forward toward this goal.”

The study is among the first of its kind and followed 114 volunteers throughout their pregnancies.

Participants provided blood samples and underwent clinical evaluations for depressive symptoms in each trimester and the postpartum period.

go.nature.com/3H9s4u3

Image Credit | iStock

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