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Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024
Depression is more common in women with autoimmune diseases both during and after pregnancy and postpartum. 

Autoimmune illness is more common in women who have had prenatal depression, according to a recent Karolinska Institutet study that was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

In the current investigation, all women who gave birth in Sweden between 2001 and 2013 were identified using information from the Swedish Medical Birth Register. Of the ensuing cohort of over 815,000 women and 1.3 million pregnancies, slightly more than 55,000 had received a diagnosis of depression either during or shortly after giving birth.

The incidence of 41 autoimmune disorders was then compared between women with and without prenatal depression, with the researchers accounting for familial factors including genes and childhood environment by additionally enrolling the sisters of the affected women.

In depth

When autoimmune illness occurs, the body’s own healthy tissue is unintentionally attacked by the immune system. Multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroiditis, gluten intolerance (coeliac disease), and type 1 diabetes are a few of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders.

The findings show a reciprocal relationship between prenatal depression and psoriasis, MS, ulcerative colitis, autoimmune thyroiditis, and celiac illness. In general, perinatal depression was 30% more common in women with autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, there was a thirty percent increased risk of autoimmune disease development in women who experienced prenatal depression.

The neurological condition MS showed the largest connection, with a twofold increase in risk in either way. Additionally, it was most pronounced in females without a prior psychiatric diagnosis.

Take away

The long-term repercussions of depression during pregnancy and in the first year after giving birth will now be further investigated by the researchers.

According to Dr. Bränn, depression during this delicate time can have major repercussions for the mother and the unborn child. The findings should aid in allocating funds for maternity healthcare, enabling more women to receive timely assistance and support.

It is impossible to draw inferences about causation from this observational study. The Icelandic Research Fund, the Swedish Research Council, Forte (the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare), and Karolinska Institutet provided funding for the study.

By Parvathy Sukumaran

Parvathy Sukumaran is a Content Creator and Editor at JustCare Health. She is an Educator and a Language Lecturer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and an M.A in English Literature. She is passionate about writing, archaeology, music and cooking.

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