BookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxFilledCheckBoxCircleBumpCheckedFilledMedical

Women With Autoimmune Diseases at Higher Risk of Postpartum Depression

New research shows link between autoimmune diseases and an increase in the risk of postpartum depression (PPD) by 30 percent. Women with PPD were also found to be at higher risk of developing an autoimmune disease.
save article
profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published January 16, 2024
depressed mother holding newborn baby at home
Image: tartanparty | Shutterstock

Researchers have uncovered a unique link between the immune system and postpartum and perinatal depression. Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, a new study evaluated data from the Swedish Medical Birth Register and found women with autoimmune diseases to be 30% more likely to experience perinatal or postpartum depression (PPD).

Scientists reviewed the data on all women who had given birth in Sweden between 2001 and 2013. There were approximately 815,000 women and 1.3 million pregnancies. During pregnancy or within a year of delivery, 55,299 women had been diagnosed with PPD.

Using this information the researchers then looked at the incidence of 41 autoimmune diseases with and without PPD. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks cells and organs. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes.

Overall the scientists found not only a one-way link between autoimmune diseases and an increased risk of PPD but an connection between women with PPD later developing autoimmune diseases. Women with PPD were 30% more likely to develop a subsequent autoimmune disease. The risk strongest was strongest for multiple sclerosis—doubled in both directions. The link between autoimmune disease and PPD was also strongest in women who didn’t previously have a mental health diagnosis.

Referred to as a bidirectional link, this mutual relationship doesn’t mean that having one condition necessarily precedes the other but they do seem to be correlated or connected in some way. “Our study suggests that there’s an immunological mechanism behind perinatal depression and that autoimmune diseases should be seen as a risk factor for this kind of depression,” Emma Bränn, researcher at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet, said in a statement. She emphasized that the study only found a link, but not cause and effect.

While there is still more work to be done, clincians believe information from this study could be helpful when developing screenings and risk assessments so these diseases or PPD could be caught earlier on.

“Depression during this sensitive period can have serious consequences for both the mother and the baby,” says Dr Bränn. “We hope that our results will help decision-makers to steer funding towards maternal healthcare so that more women can get help and support in time.”

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

mother looking at newborn baby
Premenstrual Disorders Linked to Higher Risk of Perinatal Depression
By Wyndi Kappes
mother massaging baby feet
Participating in Baby Massage Lessens Postpartum Depression Symptoms
By Wyndi Kappes
mom holding newborn baby at home
First Pill to Treat Postpartum Depression Set to Cost $15,900
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Britney Spears arrives for the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California on July 22, 2019
Britney Spears Reflects on Postpartum Depression in New Memoir
By Wyndi Kappes
dad holding crying baby at home
Dads Should Be Screened for Postpartum Depression Too, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
the mom therapist postpartum math reel
Postpartum Math: Therapist’s Reel Addresses New Mom Struggles
By Wyndi Kappes
mother and baby smiling and cuddling
10 Actionable Ways to Boost Your Postpartum Mental Health
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Kylie Jenner attends the 2022 Baby2Baby Gala presented by Paul Mitchell at Pacific Design Center on November 12, 2022 in West Hollywood, California
Kylie Jenner Encourages Postpartum Moms to ‘Stay Inside That Moment’
By Wyndi Kappes
Illustrations of disney princesses postpartum
Artist Reimagines Disney Princesses as Relatable Postpartum Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
close up of mother holding baby
How the New National Maternal Mental Health Taskforce Will Help Moms
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Elyse Myers attends TikTok House Party at VidCon 2022 at a private venue on June 23, 2022 in Anaheim, California
Elyse Myers Shares How Her Postpartum Struggles Led to Her First Video
By Wyndi Kappes
mother holding newborn baby's head
New Discovery Could Revolutionize How We Treat Postpartum Depression
By Wyndi Kappes
Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott are expecting their second baby.
Kylie Jenner's Story Reminds Us All Postpartum Journeys Are Different
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mother holding newborn baby in hospital bed after giving birth
8 Ways Black Moms Can Lower Their Risk of Postpartum Depression
By Ericka Sóuter
mother lying with newborn baby in bed at home
These States Join a Growing List Offering a Full Year of Postpartum Care
By Wyndi Kappes
baby twins in mother's lap on bed
New Study Identifies Women at Highest Risk of Postpartum Depression
By Wyndi Kappes
pregnant woman doing yoga
Study: Yoga and Mindfulness Can Help Prevent Postpartum Depression
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
What to Expect Emotionally After Birth
What to Expect Emotionally After Birth
By Yelena Moroz Alpert
writer posing with her newborn and husband
I’m an OB and I Suffered From Postpartum Depression
By Temeka Zore, MD
actress reese witherspoon opens up about her struggles with postpartum depression
Reese Witherspoon Opens Up About Struggle With Postpartum Depression
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.