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Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Postpartum Depression among a National Sample of US Mothers of Infants

Rada Dagher investigates the prevalence of postpartum depression among mothers from different racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds

The literature on maternal postpartum depression has been limited to samples of married first-time mothers of middle to high socioeconomic status who are predominantly Caucasian. This study will examine the prevalence of postpartum depression at 9 months after childbirth among different racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups and what explains these associations using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, a longitudinal study of 10,700 children born in the United States in 2001. The target population includes all mothers of these children. Data analyses will involve bivariate analyses, multiple linear regressions, and the Blinder Oaxaca techniques. Postpartum depression will be measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression  Scale. The sociological theory of the stress process will be the overarching framework for the study. The main objectives of the study include contributing preliminary but scientifically sound information on these understudied questions which may be informative to policy makers, health care providers, and maternal and child health programs. The ultimate plan is to get an NICHD grant to examine, using ZIP code data, the impact of racial residential segregation and living in socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods on the risk of developing postpartum depression.