8 Aug 2019

Pacific women in NZ more vulnerable to depression during pregnancy - study

8:39 am on 8 August 2019

Pacific women in New Zealand face nearly double the rates of depression during pregnancy than any other group, a new study has found.

medical professional holding pregant woman's hand

Photo: 123RF

The research, published in the Journal of Primary Health Care, shows 23 percent of Pacific woman experience prenatal depression.

That's compared with about 14 percent of other women and only around eight per cent of European women.

The statistics are worse for Pacific women without a GP, with about half experiencing prenatal depression.

That's putting more pressure on Pacific communities in New Zealand according to the lead researcher, Auckland University's Lisa Underwood.

"Depression in pregnancy can have an impact on the child once they're born, both a direct impact but also if you're if you're experiencing depression symptoms, you're perhaps not able to eat as healthily, you might be not getting as much exercise, you might have other things that are going on," Dr Underwood said.

Doctors should be more aware of the risks faced by Pacific women, she said, especially those who are isolated or facing other pressures.

"That's the time we need to be asking, particularly about their mental health and perhaps try and find ways of getting them more connected."