Maternal Depression and Breastfeeding – Epidemiology

Project Title
Impact of Maternal Depression on Breastmilk Duration of Breastfeeding and Breastmilk Production


2005 to 2007


University of Liverpool, UK; Institute of Psychiatry, Rawalpindi, University of Manchester, UK

Project Information

Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is recommended in the first 6 months of life. Perinatal Depression in the perinatal period adversely affects mother-infant interactions and attachment and is strongly associated with infant undernutrition. We aimed to study if depression in the perinatal depression period was associated with a) early cessation of breastfeeding, and b) reduction in the quantity of breast milk produced.

Using a prospective cohort design, we followed-up 132 depressed women and 147 non-depressed women from the third trimester of pregnancy to 6 months postnatal. Current Major Depressive Episode was measured during pregnancy and in the postnatal period using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Diagnosis (SCID) while infant-feeding practices were recorded prospectively using specially developed tools. In a convenience sample of 30 depressed and 30 non-depressed exclusively breastfeeding mothers, breast milk quantity was assessed using the dose-to-mother deuterium dilution method.

Women who were depressed during pregnancy breastfed for fewer days than women who were not depressed; women who were depressed both pre- and postnatally had the shortest duration of breastfeeding, indicating a dose-response relationship. The differences remained significant after adjusting for confounders. There was no difference in the quantity of breast milk produced in mothers from the two groups who were exclusively breastfeeding.

The study concluded that perinatal depression is associated with early cessation of breastfeeding in the first 6 months of life.

In Progress