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New research on maternal, child and adolescent mental health

NPEU researchers Fiona Alderdice, Gracia Fellmeth, Jane Henderson, Olaa Mohamed-Ahmed, Charles Opondo, Maria Quigley and Maggie Redshaw have published their findings from three studies exploring mental health in mothers in the postnatal period and in children and adolescents.

The first study explored mediators of the association between mode of birth and maternal adjustment, and found that unplanned caesarean section and instrumental birth were associated with lower maternal satisfaction with labour, and this association was partly mediated by a number of psychosocial factors. This study highlighted some potential psychosocial support interventions to promote maternal adjustment following delivery. You can read this study, which has been published in BMC Women's Health.

The second study compared two approaches to identifying postnatal depression: a novel single self-reported item versus the standard Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). This study found that although agreement between the single item and the EPDS was low at three months postpartum, women identified as having depression by both methods had symptoms indicative of other psychological co-morbidities. The study is published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

The third study was a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the impact of parental migration on child and adolescent physical and mental health and nutrition. The study found evidence of more depression, anxiety, suicide ideation and adverse nutritional outcomes among the children and adolescents of migrating parents compared to those of non-migrating parents. This study is published in The Lancet.

Volunteer doula support for mothers before, during and after birth

‘Doulas’ are trained or experienced lay women who provide social, emotional and practical support to other women during pregnancy and birth. In a qualitative interview study, NPEU researchers Jenny McLeish and Maggie Redshaw have explored the experiences of 19 volunteer doulas and 16 supported mothers at three community doula projects in England.

One paper from the study focuses on volunteer doulas at birth, examining the ways in which their continuous, empowering, woman-focused support sits alongside midwifery. A second paper considers the role of volunteer doulas working with disadvantaged mothers before and after birth. The study found that antenatal and postnatal support from doulas helped the mothers to succeed and flourish by reducing anxiety, unhappiness and stress; increasing self-esteem, self-efficacy, parenting confidence and skills; supporting them to make effective use of maternity services; and enabling them to build social ties in their community.

You can read A qualitative study of volunteer doulas working alongside midwives at births in England: Mothers' and doulas' experiences in Midwifery.

You can read Being the best person that they can be and the best mum”: a qualitative study of community volunteer doula support for disadvantaged mothers before and after birth in England in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Analyses of Listening to Parents study of parents’ experience of care after stillbirth or the death of their baby after birth

Mothers’ experience of maternity and neonatal care when babies die: a quantitative study was published in PlosOne on 5th December 2018.

There is considerable concern about the impact of the death of a baby on parents’ psychological and physical health and the way in which they are cared for at the time of the death and subsequently. The UK Department of Health funded Listening to Parents study focused on this aspect of maternity care.

This latest paper on women whose babies died soon after birth is one of a series of papers using data from Listening to Parents, a population-based study of parents whose baby died as a stillbirth or shortly after birth in 2012-131. Two previous papers focused on the experience of stillbirth for women living in deprived areas2 who have a higher incidence of stillbirth, and parent’s experience of the post-mortem process following stillbirth3

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NPEU Cost of Stillbirth Study presentation wins award at International Health Economics conference

An NPEU study presented at the Spanish Health Economics conference in June has won the award for Best Oral Presentation.  Senior Health Economist Oliver Rivero-Arias presented the paper “Healthcare and Wider Societal Implications of Stillbirth: A Population-Based Cost of Illness Study”, a collaboration involving the NPEU researchers Oliver Rivero-Arias, Helen Campbell and Jenny Kurinczuk. The study, published earlier this year in BJOG, found that the costs of stillbirth are significant, affecting the health service, parents, professionals, and society with the annual UK cost for all stillbirths at £724 million.

The prize fund of £1,300 will be donated to Sands stillbirth & neonatal death charity with whom the team collaborated during the study.

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