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Predictors of maternal psychological distress in rural India: a cross-sectional community-based study

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Maternal common mental disorders are prevalent in low-resource settings and have far-reaching consequences for maternal and child health. We assessed the prevalence and predictors of psychological distress as a proxy for common mental disorders among mothers in rural Jharkhand and Orissa, eastern India, where over 40% of the population live below the poverty line and access to reproductive and mental health services is low. Method: We screened 5801 mothers around 6 weeks after delivery using the Kessler-10 item scale, and identified predictors of distress using multiple hierarchical logistic regression. Results: 11.5% (95% CI: 10.7-12.3) of mothers had symptoms of distress (K10 score > 15). High maternal age, low asset ownership, health problems in the antepartum, delivery or postpartum periods, caesarean section, an unwanted pregnancy for the mother, small perceived infant size and a stillbirth or neonatal death were all independently associated with an increased risk of distress. The loss of an infant or an unwanted pregnancy increased the risk of distress considerably (AORs: 7.06 95% CI: 5.51-9.04 and 1.49, 95% CI: 1.12-1.97, respectively). Limitations: We did not collect data on antepartum depression, domestic violence or a mother's past birth history, and were therefore unable to examine the importance of these factors as predictors of psychological distress. Conclusions: Mothers living in underserved areas of India who experience infant loss, an unwanted pregnancy, health problems in the perinatal and postpartum periods and socio-economic disadvantage are at increased risk of distress and require access to reproductive healthcare with integrated mental health interventions.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/42572/

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