Q: Do new mothers of higher-order multiples experience post-partum depression (PPD) more often than new mothers of singletons or twins?
A:Current research shows that PPD affects 10-20% of all new mothers and generally occurs within the first year following delivery peaking between 10-14 weeks. According to a 2003 survey on PPD, PPD appears not only to affect a higher percentage of higher-order multiple birth mothers, 29%, but may occur at a later time, as late as 18 months to 3 years post-delivery, and go undiagnosed and untreated in a significant percentage of new mothers of multiples. The following factors correlated with a higher-incidence of diagnosed PPD in the survey as well as a higher number of PPD symptoms experienced regardless of diagnosis:
- Young maternal age
- Lower level of education
- Lower socioeconomic status
- Dysfunctional interpersonal relationships
- Personal or family history of mood disorder (anxiety or depression)
- Depression during pregnancy
- Psychosocial stress
- Lack of social support
- Marital discord
Raising Multiples believes that providing mothers who may be at risk for PPD with a wealth of information and support services is essential.