Giving birth to a boy can lead to higher levels of severe post-natal depression (PND) and reduced quality of life compared to having a baby girl, report researchers in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.
"When we launched our research, our main aim was to study the effect that gender has on PND. But the overwhelming finding of the study was the fact that gender appears to play a significant role in reduced quality of life as well as an increased chance of severe PND," explained lead researcher Professor Claude de Tychey.
When the researchers looked at overall results they discovered that:
- Women who had given birth to a boy reported lower quality of life scores in 70 per cent of cases compared with women who had delivered a girl, regardless of whether they suffered from PND.
- When the 10 quality of life scores were added together in each category, women who had no PND had the highest quality of life scores - 713 points for women who had given birth to girls and 648 for women who had delivered boys.
- When the researchers looked at women with PND, they found higher quality of life scores for women who had delivered girls - 567 if the PND was mild and 541 if it was severe. Women who had delivered boys scored lower totals of 539 if the PND was mild and 498 if it was severe.
- Gender differences were greatest in women who had no PND. If they had given birth to a boy they had lower quality of life scores in 90 per cent of categories than those who had delivered girls.
- Women with PND also reported lower quality of life scores if they had had a boy - these were lower in 50 per cent of categories if the PND was mild and in 70 per cent of categories if the PND was severe.
"This study is the first to show that women who give birth to boys are more likely to suffer from severe PND and reduced quality of life. These figures show very clearly that having a boy resulted in lower quality of life scores in all cases. Further research is needed to find out why this happens," said Professor de Tychey. "We believe that our findings have important public health consequences, as they point to the need for developing prevention and early psychotherapeutic programmes for women giving birth to boys," he concluded.
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Source: Journal of Clinical Nursing