Social factors and postpartum depression in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Tomlinson M. ; Swartz L. ; Cooper P.J. ; Molteno C. (2004)


Social factors, including poverty, are known risk factors for depression. In a previous study conducted in Khayelitsha, a very poor peri-urban settlement near Cape Town, a 34.7% prevalence rate for postpartum depression was found, roughly three times the expected rate internationally. This article is a report on a logistical regression analysis, showing that the odds ratios for the probability of maternal depression at two months were: for the infant being unwanted, OR=4.33, 95% Cl: (1.75; 11.60); for the father's negative attitude towards the infant, OR=6.03, 95% Cl: (2.01; 20.09); and for the mother cohabiting with (as opposed to not living with) a male partner, OR=2.77, 95% Cl: (1.08; 7.69). The odds ratios for the probability of the mother being insensitive towards the infant at two months were: for the mother aged 20 to 24 years, OR=0.40, 95% Cl: (0.10; 1.42); for the mother aged 25 to 29 years, OR=0.24, 95% Cl: (0.06; 0.77); for the mother aged 30 years or older, OR=0.27, 95% Cl: (0.07; 0.90); and for the mother receiving no help from her partner, OR=2.12, 95% Cl: (1.05; 4.33). Since data were collected cross-sectionally, it is not possible to draw conclusions about causal pathways. The findings support further investigation into the precursors of, and risk factors for, postpartum depression amongst poor South African women.

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