Fransson, E., Sörensen, F., Kunovac Kallak, T., Ramklint, M., Eckerdal, P., Heimgärtner, M., Krägeloh-Mann, I., & Skalkidou, A. (2020). Maternal perinatal depressive symptoms trajectories and impact on toddler behavior – the importance of symptom duration and maternal bonding. Journal of Affective Disorders, 273, 542-551.

Maternal perinatal depression is a public health problem affecting mothers and children worldwide. This study aimed to increase the knowledge regarding the impact of timing of maternal depression on child behavioral difficulties at 18 months, taking into consideration child gender and maternal bonding. Data from a Swedish population-based longitudinal mother-infant study (n = 1,093) were used for linear regression modeling. Associations between antenatal depression, postpartum depression, persistent depression and child behavioral problems were assessed. Maternal antenatal and persistent depression were associated with higher Child Behavior Checklist scores. Girls were affected to a greater degree. Postpartum bonding mediated most of the negative effects of postpartum and persistent depression on child behavior; not the effects of antenatal depression, however. Child behavioral problems were reported by the mother. Information regarding paternal depressive symptoms was lacking. Different onset and timing of maternal depression showed distinct associations with child behavioral problems. The effects of antenatal depression were not mediated by maternal bonding, indicating underlying mechanisms possibly related to fetal programming. Screening of depressive symptoms even during pregnancy would be important in routine care in order to early identify and treat depression.

Iliadis, Stavros I., Skalkidou, Alkistis, Ranstrand, Hanna, Georgakis, Marios K., Axfors, Cathrine, & Papadopoulos, Fotios C. (2018). Self-Harm Thoughts Postpartum as a Marker for Long-Term Morbidity. Frontiers in Public Health,6, 34.


Postpartum depression predisposes to maternal affective and somatic disorders. It is important to identify which women are at an increased risk of subsequent morbidity and would benefit from an intensified follow-up. Self-harm thoughts (SHTs), with or without other depressive symptomatology, might have prognostic value for maternal health beyond the postpartum period.


This study is to investigate the somatic and psychiatric morbidity of postpartum women with SHTs, with or without other depressive symptoms, over a 7-year follow-up period.

Materials and methods:

The subjects for this study are derived from a population-based Swedish cohort of women who gave birth at Uppsala University Hospital (May 2006-June 2007) and who answered the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at 5 days, 6 weeks, and 6 months postpartum. Three groups were included: women reporting SHTs (SHT group, n = 107) on item 10 of the EPDS; women reporting depressive symptoms, i.e., EPDS ≥ 12 at 6 weeks and/or 6 months postpartum, without SHTs (DEP group, n = 94); and randomly selected controls screening negatively for postpartum depression (CTL group, n = 104). The number of diagnostic codes for somatic and psychiatric morbidity according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems system, and the number of medical interventions were retrieved from medical records over 7 years following childbirth and were used as the outcome measures, together with any prescription of antidepressants and sick leave during the follow-up.


The SHT group had the highest psychiatric morbidity of all groups and more somatic morbidity than controls. Affective disorders were more common in the SHT and the DEP groups compared with controls, as well as antidepressant prescriptions and sick leave. One-fifth of women with SHTs did not screen positive for depressive symptoms; nevertheless, they had more somatic and psychiatric morbidity than the control group.


Women reporting thoughts of self-harm in the postpartum period are at an increased risk of somatic and psychiatric morbidity during a follow-up of 7 years after delivery, and this increased risk may not be fully attributed to depressive symptoms. Results underline the importance of screening for self-harm symptoms postpartum and point to a need for individualized follow-up.




Gingnell, M., Bannbers, E., Moes, H., Engman, J., Sylvén, S., Skalkidou, A., Kask, K., Wikström, J., and Sundström-Poromaa, I. (2015). Emotion Reactivity Is Increased 4-6 Weeks Postpartum in Healthy Women: A Longitudinal fMRI Study. PloS One 10, e0128964.

Marked endocrine alterations occur after delivery. Most women cope well with these changes, but the postpartum period is associated with an increased risk of depressive episodes. Previous studies of emotion processing have focused on maternal-infant bonding or postpartum depression (PPD), and longitudinal studies of the neural correlates of emotion processing throughout the postpartum period in healthy women are lacking. In this study, 13 women, without signs of post partum depression, underwent fMRI with an emotional face matching task and completed the MADRS-S, STAI-S, and EPDS within 48 h (early postpartum) and 4-6 weeks after delivery (late postpartum). Also, data from a previous study including 15 naturally cycling controls assessed in the luteal and follicular phase of the menstrual cycle was used. Women had lower reactivity in insula, middle frontal gyrus (MFG), and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in the early as compared to the late postpartum assessment. Insular reactivity was positively correlated with anxiety in the early postpartum period and with depressive symptoms late postpartum. Reactivity in insula and IFG were greater in postpartum women than in non-pregnant control subjects. Brain reactivity was not correlated with serum estradiol or progesterone levels. Increased reactivity in the insula, IFG, and MFG may reflect normal postpartum adaptation, but correlation with self-rated symptoms of depression and anxiety in these otherwise healthy postpartum women, may also suggest that these changes place susceptible women at increased risk of PPD. These findings contribute to our understanding of the neurobiological aspects of the postpartum period, which might shed light on the mechanisms underlying affective puerperal disorders, such as PPD.