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Maternal Depression and Rapid Subsequent Pregnancy Among First Time Mothers

Patchen, Loral MSN, CNM; Lanzi, Robin Gaines PhD, MPH

MCN, The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: July/August 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 4 - p 215–220
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0b013e3182861572

Purpose: To examine differences in prenatal depression among first-time mothers who had a subsequent pregnancy within 6 months of first birth and those who did not. Mothers with depression symptoms were expected to have a greater likelihood of rapid subsequent pregnancy.

Study Design: The Parenting for the First Time study is a longitudinal multisite prospective descriptive study designed to identify and understand the dynamics of subthreshold neglectful parenting behaviors among first-time mothers. Data were collected from the prenatal period through the child's first 3 years of life. The Parenting for the First Time sample consisted of 684 first-time mothers between 15 and 36 years. Data were available on prenatal depression and subsequent pregnancy at 6 months for 279 participants (n = 279).

Methods: Multiple logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the odds of subsequent pregnancy within 6 months of first birth.

Results: Twelve mothers (5.9%) became pregnant within 6 months of first birth. The odds of subsequent pregnancy were 7.24 greater (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.18-24.04) among mothers with moderate-to-severe depression. White versus non-White race did not influence subsequent pregnancy (0.91, 95% CI: 0.18-4.49). Pregnancy was not significantly different between teen and adult mothers (odds ratio: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.24-3.68).

Clinical Implications: In this sample of first time mothers, moderate-to-severe depression symptoms were associated with subsequent pregnancy within 6 months of first birth. Routine depression screening by nurses during the prenatal period offers opportunities for intensive contraceptive counseling and may help mothers achieve optimal birth spacing.

Is there a relationship between maternal depression and a short interpregnancy interval?

Loral Patchen is the Director, Section of Midwifery, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC. The author can be reached via e-mail at

Robin Gaines Lanzi is an Associate Professor, Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.