The Stress In Your Pregnant Lady Placenta Might Determine Whether You’re At Risk For PPD

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pregnant belly question markYou don’t necessarily need to be a reader of our Baby Blues column to know that postpartum depression presents many a parenting challenge (to say the least). Other stigmas continue to face suffering ladies as you can’t really roll up to your new mommy group and just start riffing about how spending time away from your kid actually makes you feel better. (Or maybe you do, in which case, you’re lucky). But now emerging science suggests that we may be able to discern that certain mommies are at risk for PPD before the symptoms set in. Or even before the baby shows up. Win all the way around, right?

Livescience reports that “Levels of a stress hormone released by the placenta could predict a woman’s risk of developing postpartum depression” according to new research. Scientists reportedly gauged hormone levels in 170 pregnant women (via their blood) at 15, 19, 25, 31 and 36 weeks pregnant. After checking in with them about their depression at three months postpartum, and then six months postpartum, here is what we got:

The new findings suggest that measuring levels of the hormone, called placental corticotropin-releasing hormone (pCRH), could one day help identify women who are prone to postpartum depression before they give birth.

“Women who show high levels of this hormone prenatally are at increased risk,” said study co-author Laura Glynn, a psychologist at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

The study showed an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship, between pCRH levels and postpartum depression. Further research is needed to determine exactly how this link might work.

Researchers are also confident that pCHR is already a factor in when women give birth, also known as “the placental clock,” according to Glynn (Livescience reports a “a sharp rise” right before labor).

Scientists noted that ladies with “high levels” of pCRH at the 25-week mark were more likely to be depressed at three months postpartum than those mothers who had lower rates at around the same time in their pregnancies. Other takeaways include observing “different causes” for depression that shows up soon after birth versus down the line.

Livescience is of the mind that this is nothing but good news for the many women who suffer from PPD:

The findings could help identify women who are at risk of postpartum depression before they give birth so that health care professionals could intervene early. It can be hard for women struggling with new motherhood and depression to get help, but identifying at-risk women in the earlier stages of their pregnancies could make it easier for doctors to help.

It’s especially important to identify the risk early on because postpartum depression can have lasting effects.

But how might this impact placenta-eating, I ask?

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(photo: Piotr Marcinski / Shutterstock)