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7:48 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Depression in new moms

PROVIDENCE, RI – Which women are most vulnerable to depression when their sleep is interrupted by a new baby? That's the question local researchers are asking in a new five year study.

Doctors at Rhode Island Hospital and Women and Infants Hospital are teaming up to monitor the moods and sleep patterns of women during their pregnancy and after they give birth. Lead researcher Dr. Katherine Sharkey says this study focuses on women with a history of depression or bi-polar disorder, unlike previous research.

"They've selected a group of women who I think are the least vulnerable to end up developing a mood problem," she says. "And that's the main problem with those studies is they haven't shown much because not many of the women go on to develop a problem."

Sharkey will also analyze the women's genetic information to determine if certain genes protect or make new mothers more vulnerable to post partum depression. She's hoping to recruit more than one hundred women for the study. Participants are monitored for 16 weeks and receive a small stipend.

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