BACKGROUND: Correlates and predictors of mood disturbances at 3 days and 6 weeks postpartum were assessed in Irish mothers and their partners. METHOD: The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the Highs Scale were used to assess 370 mothers and their partners. Socio-demographic, clinical and obstetric data were collected at patients' first antenatal visit. Factors associated with EPDS scores of > or = 13 and Highs score of > or = 8 were examined. RESULTS: On the EPDS 11.4% of mothers scored > or = 13 at 3 days postpartum and 11% at 6 weeks, while 18.3% of mothers scored > or = 8 on the Highs Scale at 3 days and 9% at 6 weeks. Scores on the EPDS and Highs Scale were interrelated. Factors associated with EPDS scores of > or = 13 at 6 weeks were single status, unemployment, unplanned pregnancy, public status and bottlefeeding. The best predictors of EPDS > or = 13 at 6 weeks were mothers' scores on the EPDS and the Highs Scale at 3 days. Three per cent of partners scored > or = 13 on the EPDS at 3 days postpartum and 1.2% at 6 weeks. CONCLUSIONS: Factors associated with mothers' mood disturbance were readily identifiable and collected routinely at antenatal intake. Mothers' mood within 3 days of delivery was the best predictor of later postnatal depression. Paternal mood disturbance was rare. Certain women may be at increased risk for postnatal mood disturbance and may be amenable to early identification and intervention.
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