Risk of Depressive Symptoms Associated with Morbidity in Postpartum Women in Rural Bangladesh

Pamela J. Surkan, Kwame S. Sakyi, Parul Christian, Sucheta Mehra, Alain Labrique, Hasmot Ali, Barkat Ullah, Lee Wu, Rolf Klemm, Mahbubur Rashid, Keith P. West, Donna M. Strobino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives Depression following pregnancy is common, but its extent and association with maternal morbidity in the first 6 months postpartum have not been well described in low resource settings such as rural Bangladesh. Methods We used data from a population-based, community trial of approximately 39,000 married rural Bangladeshi women aged 13–44 between 2001 and 2007 to examine the relation between women’s reported morbidity symptoms from childbirth to 3 months postpartum, and subsequent depressive symptoms assessed at 6 months postpartum. We calculated crude and adjusted risk ratios for depressive symptoms following women’s reports of reproductive, urinary, neurologic, nutrition and other illness measures constructed based on symptomatic reporting. Results In models adjusted for sociodemographic factors and co-morbidities, all postpartum illnesses were associated with an increased relative risk [RR, with 95% confidence intervals (CI) excluding 1] of depressive symptoms by 6 months postpartum. These morbidities included uterine prolapse (RR 1.20, 95% CI 1.04–1.39), urinary tract infection (RR 1.24, 95% CI 1.11–1.38), stress related incontinence (SRI) (RR 1.49, 95% 1.33–1.67), simultaneous SRI and continuously dripping urine (RR 1.60–2.96), headache [RR 1.20 (95% CI 1.12–1.28)], convulsions (RR 1.67, 95%CI 1.36–2.06), night blindness (RR 1.33, 95% CI 1.19–1.49), anemia (RR 1.38, 95% CI 1.31–1.46), pneumonia (RR 1.24, 95% CI 1.12–1.37), gastroenteritis (RR 1.24, 95% CI 1.17–1.31) and hepatobiliary disease (RR 2.10, 96% CI 1.69–2.60). Conclusions for Practice Illnesses during the first three postpartum months were risk factors for depressive symptoms, with the strongest associations noted for convulsions and hepatobiliary disease. Symptoms of depression may be of particular concern among women suffering from physical illnesses. Clinical trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT0019882.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1890-1900
Number of pages11
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Bangladesh
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Maternal illness
  • Maternal morbidity
  • Mental health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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