Original Study| Volume 29, ISSUE 1, P11-17, February 2016

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Prenatal Depressive Symptoms and Postpartum Sexual Risk Among Young Urban Women of Color


      Study Objective

      To determine whether prenatal depressive symptoms are associated with postpartum sexual risk among young, urban women of color.


      Participants completed surveys during their second trimester of pregnancy and at 1 year postpartum. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, excluding somatic items because women were pregnant. Logistic and linear regression models adjusted for known predictors of sexual risk and baseline outcome variables were used to assess whether prenatal depressive symptoms make an independent contribution to sexual risk over time.


      Fourteen community health centers and hospitals in New York City.


      The participants included 757 predominantly black and Latina (91%, n = 692) pregnant teens and young women aged 14-21 years.

      Interventions and Main Outcome Measures

      The main outcome measures were number of sex partners, condom use, exposure to high-risk sex partners, diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease, and repeat pregnancy.


      High levels of prenatal depressive symptoms were significantly associated with increased number of sex partners (β = 0.17; standard error, 0.08), decreased condom use (β = −7.16; standard error, 3.08), and greater likelihood of having had sex with a high-risk partner (odds ratio = 1.84; 95% confidence interval, 1.26-2.70), and repeat pregnancy (odds ratio = 1.72; 95% confidence interval, 1.09-2.72), among participants who were sexually active (all P < .05). Prenatal depressive symptoms were not associated with whether participants engaged in postpartum sexual activity or sexually transmitted disease incidence.


      Screening and treatment for depression should be available routinely to women at risk for antenatal depression.

      Key Words

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