Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 125–133 | Cite as

Psychosocial risk and protective factors for postpartum depression in the United Arab Emirates

Original Article


Limited research has been conducted in the United Arab Emirates in relation to postpartum depression. The purpose of this study was to investigate the risk and protective factors of postpartum depression in women in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. We carried out a prospective study in which we followed women from the second trimester of pregnancy until 4 months postpartum. Data were collected during the second and third trimesters and then at 2- and 4- months postpartum. The risk/protective factors that were investigated included: depression and anxiety during pregnancy, stressful life events, breastfeeding, employment status following delivery, religiosity, and socio-demographic variables. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (screening) and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Inventory (diagnostic) were used as outcome variables. Using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Inventory (diagnostic), 10% of the 137 participants in the study were diagnosed with postpartum depression. The following variables were found to be predictive of postpartum depression: depression during pregnancy in both the second and third trimesters: number of children, religion, and use of formula for feeding. Several factors were of borderline significance including educational level of mother, lack of breastfeeding, personal stressful life events, and employment status following delivery. These risk factors are important as they indicate potential areas for early identification. Screening of pregnant women during pregnancy and in the postpartum phase would be important. This study forms the foundation for further research and development related to prevention and intervention for postpartum depression in this Arab context.


Postpartum depression Arab culture Risk factors Protective factors 



This project was funded by grant #060909 from the College of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The authors would like to thank the Ministry of Health in Sharjah for granting permission to conduct the study, Dr. Sanaa Z. Mustafa at the Maternal and Child Health Center for her feedback and assistance in arranging for data collection, Asma Habbal for her committed efforts in translation and data collection and all of the participants who gave of their time for the study.

Ethical standards

This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Sharjah and has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki. All participants provided their informed consent prior to inclusion in the study. Details of participants that might disclose their identity have been omitted.

Conflict of interest

Aisha Hamdan was employed as an Assistant Professor in the University of Sharjah, (sponsor of the study) at the time of the study. There is no relationship with the Maternal and Child Health Center in which the study was conducted. Hani Tamim has no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of MedicineKing Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health SciencesRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.King Abdullah International Medical Research Center; College of MedicineKing Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health SciencesRiyadhKingdom of Saudi Arabia

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