The SA Society of Psychiatrists says one in five new moms is likely to experience depression, which puts their health and the growth of their newborns at risk.
This as the society revealed there was growing scientific evidence of the safety of antidepressants in pregnancy and that stopping medication could cause more harm to mother and baby.
“The risks posed to a foetus from antidepressants are consistently overestimated, while the risks of untreated depression are consistently underestimated because of the pervasive stigma against mental illness,” warned specialist psychiatrist Dr Bavi Vythilingum.
Vythilingum said depression during pregnancy was often undiagnosed and went untreated because the focus remained on the physical health of mother and baby.
She said diagnosed or not, it could lead to premature labour, low birthweights and developmental delays.
Meanwhile, postnatal mental illness, which mainly occurred as depression and anxiety, alongside malnutrition, were cited as the biggest risk factors for poor development in newborns and young children.
Vythilingum said it later affected their mental and physical health, intellectual abilities and future potential of the children.
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BY: NONKULULEKO NJILO
SOURCE: TMG DIGITAL