Maternal perinatal depression and health services utilisation in the first 2 years of life: A cohort study

Limor Adler, Joseph Azuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Maternal perinatal depression is a common phenomenon, influencing infants' development. Studies have shown an inconsistent association between perinatal depression and healthcare resource utilisation. This study aimed to assess whether perinatal depression in mothers is associated with their infants' healthcare utilisation, during the first 2 years of life. Design A cohort study based on computerised medical records. Setting Nationwide primary care clinics in the second largest health maintenance organisation in Israel. Participants 593 children of women with depression (the exposed group) and 2310 children of women without depression. Primary and secondary outcome measures Primary outcome variables included general practitioner/paediatrician (GP/Paed) visits (regular and telehealth), emergency room (ER) visits, hospital admission rates and child-development clinic visits. Secondary outcomes included antibiotic use and anaemia status. The exposure variable, perinatal depression, was based on Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. A score of ≥10 was classified as depression. Results Multivariable analysis of the number of regular visits and telehealth to the GP/Paed showed an adjusted incidence rate ratio (aIRR) of 1.08, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.13 and aIRR 0.95, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.10, respectively. Children of mothers with perinatal depression had more hospital admissions (aIRR 1.21, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.46) and more visits to child development clinics (aIRR 1.33, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.70). There was a non-significant increase in ER visits (IRR 1.26, 95% CI 0.66 to 2.42), and non-significant decrease in antibiotics prescriptions (IRR 0.95, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.05) and anaemia status (IRR 0.93, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.20). Conclusion This study shows higher health services utilisation among children of mothers with perinatal depression, including regular GP/Paed visits, hospital admission rates, and child-development clinics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere052873
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number11
StatePublished - 9 Nov 2021


  • community child health
  • depression & mood disorders
  • epidemiology
  • primary care


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