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The prevalence of postpartum depression is about 10-15%.[12][13] In a meta-analysis of the literature on risk factors for postpartum depression, 8 studies were identified that examined the influence of socioeconomic status.[12] Overall, an association was found between socioeconomic status and depression, although the effect size was small.[12] In a Finnish study, mothers with fewer years of education had higher scores on a self-completed depression scale.[13] Another sample of 130 low income women in the United States revealed that almost 1 in 3 women were experiencing depressive symptoms in pregnancy, which is a known risk factor for postpartum depression.[14] In contrast, a Swedish study found no difference in the sociodemographic characteristics of depressed and non-depressed women. However, in Sweden, there is an antenatal care system that reaches almost 100% of pregnant women, which may explain this finding.[15]


A significant predictor of the duration of depressive symptoms is the delay to treatment. What might this mean for low income women suffering from postpartum depression?


Can you think of other challenges low income women might face in coping with postpartum depression?


For more information on the impact of maternal homelessness and substance use on pregnany outcome, refer to the following article:

Little, M, Shah, R, Vermeulen, MJ, Gorman, A, Dzendolatas, D, Ray, JG. Adverse perinatal outcomes associated with homelessness and substance use in pregnancy. CMAJ 2005;173:615-8.



12. Tatano Beck, C. Predictors of postpartum depression. Nursing Research 2001;50:275-285.

13. Tammentie, T, Tarkka, MT, Astedt-Kurki, P, Paavilainen, E. Sociodemographic factors of families related to postpartum depression of mothers. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2002;8:240-6.

14. Jesse, DE, Graham, M. Are you often sad and depressed? Brief measures to identify women at risk for depression in pregnancy. American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing 2005;30:40-5.

15. Josefsson, A. et al. Obstetric, somatic, demographic risk factors for post partum depressive symptoms. Obstetrics and Gynecology 2002;99:223-8.

All references for this section