06:59am Thursday 24 August 2017

BaBY is growing: researchers to examine depression during pregnancy and early motherhood

The BaBY project (Born and Bred in Yorkshire) is a research study following a large group of mothers, their partners and babies from pregnancy onwards. It aims to find out more about the health and wellbeing of babies and their parents during pregnancy, labour and after birth.

It looks at factors such as maternal and obstetric health, mental and physical wellbeing of parents, and child health.  The project began at York Hospital in 2011 and has recently expanded to three more hospitals – Hull Royal Infirmary, Harrogate, and Scunthorpe and Goole.  Already nearly 2,000 families are taking part and more than 1,000 BaBY babies have been born.

The expansion of BaBY also includes a newly-funded project called BaBY PaNDA. The focus of BaBY PaNDA, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme, is on identifying depression in women during pregnancy and early motherhood. Clinical depression during pregnancy or when a new baby arrives is believed to affect between one in five and one in ten mothers, with around half the cases of depression being missed.

One way of improving the identification of depression involves using brief questionnaires which ask women about possible symptoms. BaBY PaNDA is testing the effectiveness of two depression screening questionnaires for pregnant women and new mothers, using scientific methods to validate them. The questionnaires include an “ultra-brief” questionnaire recommended by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), and the EPDS (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) commonly used to identify postnatal depression.

Chief Investigator Professor Simon Gilbody from the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York and the Hull York Medical School leads the project.

Professor Gilbody said: “Clinical depression is an important problem for mothers, babies and families. Help can be offered when depression is identified, either through social support or specific treatments such as psychological therapy or medication. However, effective treatment relies on depression being identified in the first place.

 “It is also unclear to what extent depression identified during pregnancy or motherhood is persistent and requires treatment, since many periods of depression are brief and require no treatment.”

All women and their partners will be asked to complete wellbeing questionnaires once during pregnancy and at eight weeks and 12 months after their baby is born. Some women will also be asked to take part in interviews about depression in pregnancy and early motherhood (BaBY PaNDA). These will also take place at three time points, once during pregnancy and twice after birth. Additionally, a few women will be asked for their views on completing the depression screening questionnaires.  Ultimately, the study will help researchers to establish if the NICE ultra-brief questionnaire and/or the EPDS should be used in routine clinical practice.

Anyone wishing to know more about BaBY and BaBY PaNDA can contact the study team on enquiries@bornbredyorks.org or visit the website www.bornbredyorks.org.

Notes to editors:

  • For further information on the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences visit www.york.ac.uk/healthsciences
  • For more information on the Hull York Medical School (HYMS) visit www.hyms.ac.uk
  • The National Institute of Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research (NIHR HS&DR) Programme was established to fund a broad range of research. It builds on the strengths and contributions of two NIHR research programmes: the Health Services Research (HSR) programme and the Service Delivery and Organisation (SDO) programme, which merged in January 2012. The programme aims to produce rigorous and relevant evidence on the quality, access and organisation of health services, including costs and outcomes. The programme will enhance the strategic focus on research that matters to the NHS. The HS&DR Programme is funded by the NIHR with specific contributions from the CSO in Scotland, NISCHR in Wales and the HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. www.netscc.ac.uk/hsdr/
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website www.nihr.ac.uk
  • This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

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