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Comparative study of major depressive symptoms among pregnant women by employment status

Aïssatou Fall1*, Lise Goulet12 and Michel Vézina23

Author Affiliations

1 École de Santé Publique de l’Université de Montréal (ÉSPUM), Québec, Canada

2 Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Québec, Canada

3 Département de médecine sociale et préventive, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

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SpringerPlus 2013, 2:201  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-201

Published: 30 April 2013


The objectives of our study were to compare the prevalence of major depressive symptoms between subgroups of pregnant women: working women, women who had stopped working, housewives and students; and to identify risk factors for major depressive symptoms during pregnancy. The CES-D scale (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale) was used to measure major depressive symptoms (CES-D score ≥23) in 5337 pregnant women interviewed at 24–26 weeks of pregnancy. Multivariate logistic regression models were developed to identify risk factors associated with major depressive symptoms. Prevalence of major depressive symptoms was 11.9% (11.0–12.8%) for all pregnant women. Working women had the lowest proportion of major depressive symptoms [7.6% (6.6–8.7%); n = 2514] compared to housewives [19.1% (16.5–21.8%); n = 893], women who had stopped working [14.4% (12.7–16.1%); n = 1665], and students [14.3% (10.3–19.1%); n = 265]. After adjusting for major risk factors, the association between pregnant women’s employment status and major depressive symptoms remained significant for women who had stopped working (OR: 1.61; 95% CI 1.26 to 2.04) and for housewives (OR: 1.46; 95% CI 1.10 to 1.94), but not for students (OR: 1.37; 95% CI 0.87 to 2.16). In multivariate analyses, low education, low social support outside of work, having experienced acute stressful events, lack of money for basic needs, experiencing marital strain, having a chronic health problem, country of birth, and smoking were significantly associated with major depressive symptoms. Health professionals should consider the employment status of pregnant women when they evaluate risk profiles. Prevention, detection and intervention measures are needed to reduce the prevalence of prenatal depression.

Pregnancy; Employment status; Major depressive symptoms; Risk factors