Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 915–931 | Cite as

A Longitudinal Study of Pre-pregnancy and Pregnancy Risk Factors Associated with Antenatal and Postnatal Symptoms of Depression: Evidence from Growing Up in New Zealand

  • Lisa Underwood
  • Karen E. Waldie
  • Stephanie D’Souza
  • Elizabeth R. Peterson
  • Susan M. B. Morton


Objectives Antenatal and postnatal depression can lead to poor outcomes for women and their children. The aim of this study was to explore whether risk factors differ for depression symptoms that are present during pregnancy and/or after childbirth. Methods An ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of 5301 women completed interviews during the third trimester of pregnancy and 9 months after childbirth. Depression symptoms were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). Depression symptoms (defined as EPDS >12) among participants and associations with pre-pregnancy and pregnancy maternal characteristics were explored using logistic regression. Results The rate of antenatal depression symptoms (ADS) only was 8.5, 5% of women had depression symptoms at 9 months postpartum (PDS) only and 3% experienced depression symptoms at both time points. Perceived stress and Pacific or Asian ethnicity were risk factors for ADS and PDS. Anxiety during and before pregnancy was a risk factor for ADS only while having a pre-pregnancy diagnosis of depression was a risk factor for PDS only. Having ADS increased the odds ratio of PDS by 1.5 (95% CI 1.01–2.30). Conclusions The results supported evidence from previous longitudinal studies that depression symptoms appear to be higher during pregnancy than in the first year following childbirth. The study found that PDS may often be a continuation or recurrence of ADS.


Antenatal depression Postnatal depression Perceived stress Longitudinal research Cohort study Growing Up in New Zealand 



Antenatal depression symptoms


Confidence interval


Edinburgh Depression Scale


Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale


Postnatal depression symptoms




No data


Perceived Stress Scale




Standard deviation



The Growing Up in New Zealand study has been funded by the New Zealand Ministries of Social Development, Health, Education, Justice and Pacific Island Affairs; the former Ministry of Science Innovation and the former Department of Labour (now both part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment); the former Ministry of Women’s Affairs (now the Ministry for Women); the Department of Corrections; the Families Commission (now known as the Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit); Te Puni Kokiri; New Zealand Police; Sport New Zealand; the Housing New Zealand Corporation; and the former Mental Health Commission, The University of Auckland and Auckland UniServices Limited. Other support for the study has been provided by the New Zealand Health Research Council, Statistics New Zealand, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and the Office of Ethnic Affairs.


The study has been designed and conducted by the Growing Up in New Zealand study team, led by the University of Auckland. The authors acknowledge the contributions of the original study investigators: Susan M.B. Morton, Polly E. Atatoa Carr, Cameron C. Grant, Arier C. Lee, Dinusha K. Bandara, Jatender Mohal, Jennifer M. Kinloch, Johanna M. Schmidt, Mary R. Hedges, Vivienne C. Ivory, Te Kani R. Kingi, Renee Liang, Lana M. Perese, Elizabeth Peterson, Jan E. Pryor, Elaine Reese, Elizabeth M. Robinson, Karen E. Waldie and Clare R. Wall. The views reported in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Growing Up in New Zealand study investigators.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Longitudinal Research, He Ara ki MuaUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.School of PsychologyUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Population HealthUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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