Mother and her baby
About 37% of Black and Latina women received treatment for their diagnosed depression or anxiety during pregnancy or in their first year of motherhood. Hoffman

Latinas and Black women experiencing depression or anxiety during or just after pregnancy are nearly half as likely to receive treatment as white women, researchers report in an article published in the journal Health Affairs.

The study, titled "Racial And Ethnic Inequities In Postpartum Depressive Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Care In 7 US Jurisdictions," was based on the Postpartum Assessment of HealthSurvey and funded by Columbia World Projects.

Overall, a total of 4,542 new mothers who gave birth in 2020 were surveyed in seven places – Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and New York City.

The survey sought to understand demographic disparities existing in the treatment of pregnancy-related mood disorders in the United States. Nearly one in eight people who give birth wind up suffering postpartum depression, according to information provided by researchers.

The findings show that while 37% of Black and Latina women received treatment for their diagnosed depression or anxiety during pregnancy or in their first year of motherhood, the number was 67% for non-Hispanic White women in the country.

Treatment rates were even lower among other ethnicities, such as Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and North African descent.

"Our study in concert with existing work shows that Asian, Black and Latine birthing people, who may be at the greatest risk of postpartum depression, are the least likely to receive any form of postpartum mental health care -- illustrating stark racial inequities in how postpartum depression is identified and managed in the U.S.," said lead researcher Sarah Haight, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, according to an article by Health Day.

"People with postpartum depressive symptoms who identified as Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Southwest Asian, Middle Eastern, or North African or Hispanic were significantly less likely than White people to report ever receiving a diagnosis," researchers said in the study based on previous data.

"It is possible that disparities in diagnosis before pregnancy contributed to disparities in mental health care received during the perinatal period," they said.

The findings align with another study published in the same journal, which showed that white women were more likely than Black, Hispanic, or Asian women to be prescribed antidepressants during pregnancy.

Nevertheless, the second study observed an overall increase in the number of women receiving accurate diagnoses for their pregnancy-related mood disorders compared to previous years.

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