Giving birth to a boy leads to post-natal depression, reduced quality of life

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Washington, Feb 14 : Women who give birth to boys are more likely to suffer increased severe post-natal depression (PND) and reduced quality of life than those having daughters, according to a new study.

Led by Professor Claude de Tychey, from Universite Nancy 2, France, the research team examined 181 mothers, and found 9 percent had severe depression, and that three-quarters of these had delivered a male child.

The study, conducted a French community where researchers didn't face cultural pressures over the sex of their baby, also found that, even if women didn't have postnatal depression, giving birth to a boy was significantly more likely to reduce their quality of life than delivering a girl.

"When we launched our research, our main aim was to study the effect that gender has on PND. But the overwhelming finding of the study was the fact that gender appears to play a significant role in reduced quality of life as well as an increased chance of severe PND," Professor de Tychey said.

Professor de Tychey and colleagues measured the women's quality of life using a validated questionnaire containing 36 questions.

The results were then collated into male and female births and whether the woman had no, mild or severe PND. Scores were also calculated for their overall physical and mental health.

The researchers found that women who had given birth to a boy reported lower quality of life scores in 70 per cent of cases compared with women who had delivered a girl, regardless of whether they suffered from PND.

The figures also enabled the researchers to compare the gender differences for women with no, mild and severe PND.

They found that gender differences were greatest in women who had no PND. If they had given birth to a boy they had lower quality of life scores in 90 per cent of categories than those who had delivered girls.

Women with PND also reported lower quality of life scores if they had had a boy - these were lower in 50 per cent of categories if the PND was mild and in 70 per cent of categories if the PND was severe.

"These figures show very clearly that having a boy resulted in lower quality of life scores in all cases," Professor de Tychey said.

"We also discovered that being a first-time mother had no effect on quality of life scores. Women had the same general scores regardless of whether the recent birth was their first or second baby," Professor de Tychey added.

The researchers found that 52 percent of the women who took part had given birth to boys. 61 per cent of the babies included in the study were first babies (55 boys and 56 girls) and the remainder were second babies.

They also found that women having their second baby were slightly more likely to have had a girl the first time around (59 per cent).

"Post-natal depression can have a considerable impact on women as it can affect both their physical and mental health," Professor de Tychey said.

The study is published in the February issue of Journal of Clinical Nursing.

ANI

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