Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 157–168

Prevalence, Stability, and Socio-Demographic Correlates of Depressive Symptoms in Black Mothers During the First 18 Months Postpartum

  • Marjorie Beeghly
  • Karen L. Olson
  • M. Katherine Weinberg
  • Snaltze Charlot Pierre
  • Nikora Downey
  • Edward Z. Tronick
Article

DOI: 10.1023/A:1025132320321

Cite this article as:
Beeghly, M., Olson, K.L., Weinberg, M.K. et al. Matern Child Health J (2003) 7: 157. doi:10.1023/A:1025132320321

Abstract

Objectives: The goals of this longitudinal study were to evaluate 1) the prevalence and stability of high depressive symptom levels during the first 18 months postpartum in a sample of otherwise healthy Black mothers varying in socio-economic status and 2) the relation of socio-demographic variables and level of socio-demographic risk to maternal depressive symptom levels during this time period. Methods: Participants were 163 Black adult mothers of healthy, full-term infants. The level of mothers' depressive symptomatology was assessed at 2, 3, 6, 12, and 18 months postpartum using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D). Mothers provided socio-demographic information at each assessment. Univariate and bivariate analyses were used to analyze the data. Results: The percentage of mothers with an elevated CES-D score (16 or higher) at single visits ranged from 13.5 to 14.7%, and 35.0% had at least one elevated CES-D score by 18 months postpartum. CES-D total scores were significantly correlated across each pair of visits (mean r = 0.57, all p's < 0.0001), and average CES-D scores did not change significantly over time. Single marital status, low-income status, and more negative maternal perceptions of the adequacy of income for meeting familial needs were significantly related to higher maternal CES-D scores at each assessment (all p's < 0.05). Level of socio-demographic risk, as assessed with a composite risk score derived from these variables, was significantly related to higher average CES-D scores (averaged across visits) (p < 0.0001) and to a greater frequency of elevated CES-D scores (16 or higher) during the first 18 months postpartum (p = 0.0002). Conclusions: The prevalence and stability of high levels of maternal depressive symptomatology during the first 18 months postpartum in this sample of Black women are consistent with those reported in prior studies of community samples of mothers unselected for race. Mothers with higher socio-demographic risk profiles had higher levels of maternal depressive symptoms at each assessment point.

maternal depressionCenter for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D)African Americans/Blacksprevalencestabilitysocio-demographic risk

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marjorie Beeghly
    • 1
    • 2
  • Karen L. Olson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • M. Katherine Weinberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Snaltze Charlot Pierre
    • 2
  • Nikora Downey
    • 2
  • Edward Z. Tronick
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsHarvard Medical SchoolBoston
  2. 2.Child Development Unit, Division of General PediatricsChildren's HospitalBoston
  3. 3.Harvard University School of Public HealthBoston