Postnatal depression and reproductive success in modern, low-fertility contexts

Myers, Sarah and Burger, Oskar F. and Johns, Sarah E. (2016) Postnatal depression and reproductive success in modern, low-fertility contexts. Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, 1 . pp. 71-84. ISSN 2050-6201. E-ISSN 2050-6201. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/emph/eow003) (Full text available)

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Abstract

Background and objectives: Postnatal depression (PND) presents a puzzling phenomenon to evolutionary anthropologists as it is highly prevalent and yet detrimental to child development and maternal health. Adaptive explanations have been proposed, but have not been tested with data that directly link PND to female fertility. Methodology: A survey was designed to gather complete reproductive histories and retrospective measures of PND to measure the effects of PND on fitness. Respondents were born between 1930 and 1967, with the majority based in the UK during their childrearing years. The hypothesis that PND is detrimental to fitness is assessed using Mann–Whitney U tests on completed fertility. Binary logistic regression modelling is used to test the hypothesis that PND reduces the likelihood of parity progression. Results: Women experiencing PND at their first or second birth have lower completed fertility, with PND at the first birth leading to lowered fertility. Logistic regression analyses show that this is the result of reductions in the likelihood of parity progression to a third birth when PND is experienced at the first birth or when repeat bouts occur. Conclusions and implications: Our results call into question adaptationist arguments, contribute to the growing understanding of the importance of emotional wellbeing to fertility decision making, and given the economic consequences of markedly below replacement fertility, highlight a potential new source of financial incentive to invest in screening and preventative measures to ensure good maternal mental health.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: postnatal depression; life history; evolutionary demography; fertility; parity progression
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Q Science > Q Science (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA788 Sexual health
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics > RG551 Pregnancy
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Biological Anthropology
Depositing User: Sarah Johns
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2016 13:10 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2018 14:48 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/54433 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Johns, Sarah E.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7715-7351
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