Muscat: Unplanned pregnancy has been identified as the main reason behind depression among pregnant women in Oman, followed by marital conflict, a first of its kind study by researchers from the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH) has revealed.
Get your essential daily briefing delivered direct to your email inbox with our e-newsletter
More than four in 10 pregnant Omani women admitted their pregnancy was unplanned, the study found.
While pregnancy can be an exciting experience for most women, a whopping 24 per cent of pregnant Omani women find it hard to cope with it, resulting in possible antenatal depression, often associated with considerable medical and psychological morbidities which affect both, the mother and the baby.
For the baby, antenatal depression is known to increase the risk of slower foetal activity, low birth weight, subsequent admission to a neonatal care unit and sudden death.
In addition, the infants of women with antenatal depression may receive suboptimal physical and psychological care after birth and older children and/or spouses can also suffer from the secondary effects of maternal depression.
Of the 959 pregnant women who participated in the study, 47 per cent were between 25 to 30-year-old, while 27 per cent were below 24 and 26 per cent were above 30.
Interestingly, one out of four pregnant housewives was diagnosed with possible depression, according to Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) questionnaire with a cut-off score of ≥13 used in the study while employed pregnant women showed lower rates of depression (22.9 per cent).
Depression is a common although often misdiagnosed disorder that can affect women during the antenatal period.
The study was carried at the FAMCO clinic of the SQUH and 12 other Local Health Centres of the Ministry of Health in Muscat, selected randomly.
It is worth mentioning that the rate of possible existence of antenatal depression among Omani women is higher than findings from other countries with similar cultural and socio-demographic characteristics, such as Jordan (19.0 per cent) and Morocco (19.2 per cent).
Additionally, the prevalence was higher than the results reported from Bangladesh, Turkey, Australia and the UK, but lower than the rate observed in South Africa (39.0 per cent).
“Considering the relatively high rate of antenatal depression observed in the current study, the revealed results could be taken forward to consider implementing routine screening for antenatal depression as part of regular antenatal care services. Identifying women with such depression would enable healthcare professionals to provide psychological support to those affected and hence potentially bring down this affliction and related complications in Oman,” said Dr Mohammed Hilal Al Azri [MD, FRCGP(INT), MMedSc(UK), PhD(UK)], Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University.
Dr Mohammed Hilal Al Azri conducted the study with his team of Dr Iman Al Lawati, Dr Raya Al Kamyani, Dr Maisa Al Kiyumi, Dr Aysha Al Rawahi, Dr Robin Davidson and Dr Abdullah Al Muniri.