Prevention Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 289–299 | Cite as

Unintended Pregnancy and Perinatal Depression Trajectories in Low-Income, High-Risk Hispanic Immigrants

  • Anna L. Christensen
  • Elizabeth A. Stuart
  • Deborah F. Perry
  • Huynh-Nhu Le


Perinatal depression is a prevalent and detrimental condition. Determining modifiable factors associated with it would identify opportunities for prevention. This paper: 1) identifies depressive symptom trajectories and heterogeneity in those trajectories during pregnancy through the first-year postpartum, and 2) examines the association between unintended pregnancy and depressive symptoms. Depressive symptoms (BDI-II) were collected from low-income Hispanic immigrants (n=215) five times from early pregnancy to 12-months postpartum. The sample was at high-risk for perinatal depression and recruited from two prenatal care settings. Growth mixture modeling (GMM) was used to identify distinct trajectories of depressive symptoms over the perinatal period. Multinomial logistic regression was then conducted to examine the association between unintended pregnancy (reported at baseline) and the depression trajectory patterns. Three distinct trajectory patterns of depressive symptoms were identified: high during pregnancy, but low postpartum (“Pregnancy High”: 9.8%); borderline during pregnancy, with a postpartum increase (“Postpartum High”: 10.2%); and low throughout pregnancy and postpartum (“Perinatal Low”: 80.0%). Unintended pregnancy was not associated with the “Pregnancy High” pattern, but was associated with a marginally significant nearly four fold increase in risk of the “Postpartum High” pattern in depressive symptoms (RRR=3.95, p<0.10). Family planning is a potential strategy for the prevention of postpartum depression. Women who report unintended pregnancies during prenatal care must be educated of their increased risk, even if they do not exhibit antenatal depressive symptoms. Routine depression screening should occur postpartum, and referral to culturally appropriate treatment should follow positive screening results.


Depression Pregnancy Hispanic Latina Growth mixture modeling 


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Copyright information

© Society for Prevention Research 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna L. Christensen
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. Stuart
    • 2
  • Deborah F. Perry
    • 3
  • Huynh-Nhu Le
    • 4
  1. 1.Mathematica Policy ResearchWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Mental Health and BiostatisticsJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Center for Child and Human DevelopmentGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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