Doing aerobic exercise can reduce the level of depressive symptoms experienced by women who have had a baby in the past year | British Journal of General Practice |via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
This review of 13 studies showed that involving new mothers in group exercise programmes, or advising them on an exercise of their choice, reduced depressive symptoms compared with usual care. The effect was moderate but significant. Examples of exercise were pram walks, with dietary advice from peers in some studies. The benefits were shown whether or not the mothers had postnatal depression.
The NIHR reports that the evidence does have some limitations regarding its quality but is the best research currently available. This review should give additional confidence to health visitors and GPs to advise women that keeping active after birth can benefit their mental and physical health.
Postnatal depression affects around 1 in 10 women and not only impacts on the wellbeing of the mother, but can also have long term impacts on the mental and physical health of the infant.
The authors of this Lancet paper are from the Postpartum Depression: Action Towards Causes and Treatment (PACT) consortium. This is an international group who aim to gather information about PND to explore a number of questions, including whether there are distinguishable subtypes of PND which might be relevant for treatment and prognosis, in particular taking into account comorbid anxiety.
In this post via The Mental Elf, Jill Domoney looks at the methods and results of this paper, the authors of which believe has created “an important hypothesis-generating foundation for future work”.
Objectives: To explore how low-income pregnant women use Healthy Start food vouchers, the potential impacts of the programme, and which women might experience these impacts and why.
Conclusions: This realist review suggests that some low-income pregnant women may use Healthy Start vouchers to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables and plain cow’s milk, whereas others may use them to reduce food expenditure and save money for other things.
Being healthy is the best start to pregnancy for a woman and child | NIHR
Preparing for pregnancy can focus attention on health, such as eating a healthy balanced diet or losing excess weight, as well as avoiding risks from smoking, alcohol and drug use. Ensuring the best care for long-term physical and mental health conditions is important for a healthy pregnancy, as well as addressing complex social needs.
Getting the best start in life for children is a UK policy priority, focused on preventing problems and early intervention to improve outcomes. NIHR research evidence into modifiable factors to influence health before, during and after pregnancy is growing and helping to inform policy and practice.
This themed review brings together NIHR research on different aspects of health before, during and after pregnancy. It features:
46 published studies
28 ongoing studies or interim results
Questions for clinicians, commissioners, public health professionals and others
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews has published ‘Psychosocial interventions for supporting women to stop smoking in pregnancy’.
Tobacco smoking remains one of the few preventable factors associated with complications in pregnancy, and has serious long-term implications for women and babies. Smoking in pregnancy is decreasing in high-income countries, but is strongly associated with poverty and is increasing in low- to middle-income countries.
Counselling, feedback and financial incentives appear to reduce the number of women smoking in late pregnancy, however the interventions and the context of the interventions need to be carefully considered. The effect of health education and social support is less clear. Most of the studies were carried out in high-income countries making it difficult to assess if the findings are applicable to other contexts. The intensity of support women received in both the intervention and comparison groups has increased over time. Many of the studies did not provide information on the number of individual women who were eligible for inclusion or were approached to take part in studies, which would have provided useful information about the general acceptability of the interventions and selection bias in the studies. The timing of the final assessment of smoking status during pregnancy also varied considerably among the studies.
The authors concluded that psychosocial interventions to support women to stop smoking in pregnancy can increase the proportion of women who stop smoking in late pregnancy and the proportion of infants born low birthweight. Counselling, feedback and incentives appear to be effective, however the characteristics and context of the interventions should be carefully considered. The effect of health education and social support is less clear.