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Keywords:

  • mental health;
  • postpartum depression;
  • malnutrition;
  • child development;
  • developing countries

Objective:  There is a high prevalence of depression in south Asian women. We aimed to examine the association between antenatal depression and low birthweight (LBW) in infants in a rural community in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Method:  A total of 143 physically healthy mothers with ICD-10 depression in the third trimester of pregnancy and 147 non-depressed mothers of similar gestation were followed from birth. Infant weight was measured and information collected on socioeconomic status, maternal body-mass index and sociodemographic factors.

Results:  Infants of depressed mothers had lower birthweight (mean 2910 g) than infants of non-depressed mothers (mean 3022 g). The relative risk for LBW (≤2500 g) in infants of depressed mothers was 1.9 (95% CI 1.3–2.9). The association remained significant after adjustment for confounders by multivariate analyses.

Conclusion:  Low birthweight is a major public health problem in developing countries. Maternal depression during pregnancy predicts LBW. Interventions aimed at maternal depression may help improve infant outcomes.