February 2, 2009 --
Testing for a particular hormone could let women know if they are at risk for post partum depression. Doctors at the University of California at Irvine took blood samples from 100 women throughout their pregnancies. They checked for levels of a hormone called PCRH, which is made by the placenta during fetal development.
Women who developed postpartum depression in the study all had high levels of PCRH around the sixth month of their pregnancies.
They theorize that the sudden loss of this hormone after birth may trigger the depression symptoms. The hope is that women can one day be screened for this.