One in 10 new dads also get the "baby blues"

Wed May 19, 2010 1:21am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - It's not just moms that can get postpartum depression with a U.S. study finding that one in about every 10 new dads also suffers from the "baby blues."

Researchers from the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk pooled data from 43 studies involving about 28,000 participants that documented depression in fathers from the first 3 months of pregnancy to the first year after delivery.

Overall, they estimated that about 10 percent of fathers experience depression before or soon after the birth of a child.

By comparison, about 5 percent of men in the general population will suffer depression over the course of one year.

"This suggests that depression in expecting or new dads represents a significant public health concern," researchers James Paulson and Sharnail Bazemore said in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

While up to 30 percent of new moms may suffer postpartum blues, little is known about how fathers fare mentally with the impending birth of a child and soon after the little one comes home from the hospital.

Paulson and Bazemore found that three to six months after birth seems to be the most vulnerable time for dads, with rates of depression topping 25 percent. This is also the highest risk time period for new moms.

They also found that expecting and new fathers in the United States tended to have higher rates of depression, at 14 percent, than their peers in other countries, at 8 percent. They said this was a question for future studies.

Paulson and Bazemore also found a link between depression in mom and depression in dad. Therefore, "depression in one parent should prompt clinical attention to the other," they noted in their report ( here).

Based on their findings, the researchers said more efforts should be made to spot depression in new dads, especially in light of mounting evidence that dad's postpartum depression may have "substantial emotional, behavioral, and developmental effects on children."

(Reporting by Megan Brooks, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)