Global burden of antenatal depression and its association with adverse birth outcomes: An umbrella review

Abel Fekadu Dadi, Emma R. Miller, Telake Azale Bisetegn, Lillian Mwanri

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    Background: Women of childbearing age are at high risk of developing depression and antenatal depression is one of the most common mood disorders. Antenatal depression is also associated with a number of poor maternal and infant outcomes, however, there remains a lack of focus on mental issues in antenatal care, particularly in lower income countries. This systematic review of reviews provides useful evidence regarding the burden of antenatal depression which may provide guidance for health policy development and planning. Methods: We searched CINAHL(EBSCO), MEDLINE (via Ovid), PsycINFO, Emcare, PubMed, Psychiatry Online, and Scopus databases for systematic reviews that based on observational studies that were published in between January 1st, 2007 and August 31st, 2018. We used the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) checklist scores to assess the quality of the included reviews. We applied vote counting and narrative review to summarize the prevalence of antenatal depression and its associated factors, while statistical pooling was conducted for estimating the association of antenatal depression with low birth weight and preterm birth. This systematic review of reviews was registered on PROSPERO with protocol number CRD42018116267. Results: We have included ten reviews (306 studies with 877,246 participants) on antenatal depression prevalence and six reviews (39 studies with 75,451 participants) conducted to identify the effect of antenatal depression on preterm and low birth weight. Globally, we found that antenatal depression prevalence ranged from 15 to 65%. We identified the following prominent risk factors based on their degree of influence: Current or previous exposure to different forms of abuse and violence (six reviews and 73 studies); lack of social and/or partner support (four reviews and 47 studies); personal or family history of any common mental disorder (three reviews and 34 studies). The risk of low birth weight and preterm birth was 1.49 (95%CI: 1.32, 1.68; I 2 = 0.0%) and 1.40 (95%CI: 1.16, 1.69; I 2 = 35.2%) times higher among infants born from depressed mothers. Conclusions: Globally, antenatal depression prevalence was high and could be considered a common mental disorder during pregnancy. Though the association between antenatal depression and adverse birth outcomes appeared to be modest, its absolute impact would be significant in lower-income countries with a high prevalence of antenatal depression and poor access to quality mental health services.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number173
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalBMC Public Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020


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