Researchers have identified two genes that seem to indicate the onset of postpartum depression. A blood test could help detect which pregnant women are at risk for the condition, with the hopes that they could receive early treatment to reduce its intensity or prevent it from developing at all.
According to a recent study, women who have the two genes—which were identified by researchers at Johns Hopkins University—are "particularly susceptible" to the effects of pregnancy hormones on the brain, leaving them depressed, despondent, and, in the most severe cases, suicidal. For the study, the blood test was given to 52 pregnant women with an 85% accuracy for predicting the onset of postpartum depression.
Because women's hormones are so out of whack just after giving birth, mood shifts and "the blues" are considered normal, but prolonged sadness is not. New mothers are now advised to look out for signs of that, but when stressed out and overtired caring for a newborn, it's difficult to tell the difference between the two.
Dr. Zachary Kaminsky, who led the study, said, "A test like this could be that way." He hopes the test will be available to the general public within the next two years, enabling women with the genes to create a treatment plan while they are still pregnant, take medication, and manage their own care more successfully.
Image via ostill/Shutterstock.