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Birth of a Boy Could Bring Severe Post Natal Depression among Women

by Kamal Salar

It is normal to have a “Post-Natal Depression (PND)” after a child’s birth and the quality of life usually gets reduced. This commonly occurring problem poses threat to mental and physical health of a mother if not diagnosed and taken seriously.

A new study led by Professor Claude de Tychey, from ‘Universite Nancy 2′, France came out with striking results showing that the birth to a boy can lead to higher levels of PND and the quality of life worsens as compared in the case of birth of a girl child.

In a research published in the February issue of “Journal of Clinical Nursing”, it was found that just under a third of the 181 women, they studied four to eight weeks after delivery had PND. Nine percent of these women belonged to a French community where they faced no cultural pressures in terms of the gender of the baby. Three quarters of these women suffering from severe cases of PND had given birth to boys.

They found that the gender of the baby not only determines the severity of PND but also plays an important role in affecting the quality of life. The women who gave birth to boys were found enjoying a reduced quality of life even when there were no signs of post natal depression among them. This was lesser when they delivered girls.

A questionnaire was used to carry out this comparison. There were 36 questions in it asking the women to score eight important parameters of their health like proper functioning of the body, physical role, physical pains, mental health and few questions related to emotional and social health. The researchers provided a 100- point scale to women to measure themselves up on the above dimensions. The results were then further categorized on the basis of male and female births to evaluate their effects on PND and overall physical and mental health among the women. This provided 60 separate quality of life scores.

The overall results depicted clear differences in the overall quality of life and PND in case of birth of a girl and a boy. In 70% cases of women giving birth to a boy reported lower level of quality of life even when PND was absent among them. They showed higher cores of quality of life when the 10 quality of life scores were added together.

Among the women suffering from PND, the researchers found better scores of quality of life among those who had given birth to girls as compared to those who delivered boys.

Gender differences were also counted among the women with no, mild or severe PND symptoms. The gender differences were found to be greatest in women who had no PND. In 90% cases of women who delivered boys enjoyed lower quality of life than those who had delivered girls. Even the women with PND also had more instances of lower quality of life in the case of a boy comparatively. The results varied with the degree of PND of course.

Professor de Tychey concluded that these figures clearly show that having a boy resulted in lower score in relation to the quality of life. These scores were not much affected by the fact of giving birth to the first child or the second one.

Developing severe cases of PND in societies and cultures is natural where more preference to boys are given however this study was carried out in a French community where women were devoid of al the cultural pressures.

Severe PND and reduced quality of life was reported among them when they gave birth to a boy. Better psychotherapeutic programs should be devised for such women at the earliest stage. Public health should be focused on early diagnosis and prevention of these cases.

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