Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 318–325 | Cite as

Acculturation and Depressive Symptoms Among Pregnant and Postpartum Latinas

  • Marivel DavilaEmail author
  • Stephanie L. McFall
  • Diana Cheng


Objectives Among childbearing Latinas, higher acculturation has been found to be significantly associated with increased risk for mental health problems (Acevado (Child Abuse Neglect, 24:11–127, 2000)), although these findings have been inconsistent (Beck (Maternal Child Nurs, 31(2), 114–120, 2006)). The aims of this study are to assess and compare the prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms among pregnant and postpartum U.S.- and Mexican-born Latinas, and to describe the relation of elevated depressive symptoms and acculturation indicators. Methods A convenience sample of 439 pregnant and postpartum Latinas attending Public Health Clinics in San Antonio, Texas was screened for depressive symptoms using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) Scale. Women with a score of 21 or greater were classified as having elevated depressive symptoms. Sociodemographic data, including birth country and language of interview, were collected as indicators of acculturation. Results 21% of the sample had moderate depressive symptoms; 15% met the threshold for high depressive symptoms. Bivariate analysis showed Latinas who were U.S.-born, single, preferred English or were pregnant were more likely to express elevated levels of depressive symptoms. Being U.S.-born, pregnant and single was significantly associated with moderate levels of depressive symptoms in logistic regression analyses controlling for other variables in the model. Controlling for other variables, being pregnant and single was significantly associated with high levels of depressive symptoms. Conclusions Higher acculturation, pregnancy and single status were positively associated with elevated depressive symptoms. Screening for depression during pregnancy is important for this population group, given Latinas’ high rates of fertility and births to single women, particularly among more acculturated, U.S.-born Latinas.


Depression Perinatal period Hispanic American Mexican-American Acculturation Postpartum depression 



This data set was collected as part of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s (SAMHD), Perinatal Depression Project, funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. The authors wish to thank the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and those women who participated in the project for their contribution to this work. The contents of this report are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the SAMHD or the Hogg Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marivel Davila
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephanie L. McFall
    • 2
  • Diana Cheng
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.University of Texas, School of Public HealthSan AntonioUSA
  3. 3.Maryland Department of Health and Mental HygieneBaltimoreUSA

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