Tackling post-natal depression in poorer countries

14 September 2008
Posted by Chris Smith.

Researchers from Liverpool working in rural Rawalpindi in Pakistan have found a simple and effective way to cut depression in mothers in poorer countries.

BabyReporting their results in a special edition of the journal The Lancet this week, the researchers trained local village-based health workers in delivering the "Thinking Healthy Programme" to mothers in the final third of their pregnancy. The programme is based on cognitive behavioural therapy and involves listening techniques, guided questioning, and enabling mothers to practice techniques between sessions.  The researchers then measured the levels of depression in the mothers on the programme at 6 and 12 months, as well as monitoring the babies' heights and weights.

In the trial, 463 mothers from 20 villages were given the programme, while 440 from another 20 villages acted as a control.  The team found that mothers in the control group were more than four times likely to be depressed than those given the programme. They also found that babies of mothers on the programme were less likely to have had diarrhoea, and were more likely to have had all their immunisations. They also found that mothers and fathers in the group on the programme played with their babies more often, and were also more likely to use contraceptives.

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