Perinatal mental health: how nordic data sources have contributed to existing evidence and future avenues to explore

Maria A. Karalexi*, Malin Eberhard-Gran, Unnur Anna Valdimarsdóttir, Hasse Karlsson, Trine Munk-Olsen, Alkistis Skalkidou

*Kontaktforfatter

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Abstract

Purpose: Perinatal mental health disorders affect a significant number of women with debilitating and potentially life-threatening consequences. Researchers in Nordic countries have access to high quality, population-based data sources and the possibility to link data, and are thus uniquely positioned to fill current evidence gaps. We aimed to review how Nordic studies have contributed to existing evidence on perinatal mental health. Methods: We summarized examples of published evidence on perinatal mental health derived from large population-based longitudinal and register-based data from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Results: Nordic datasets, such as the Danish National Birth Cohort, the FinnBrain Birth Cohort Study, the Icelandic SAGA cohort, the Norwegian MoBa and ABC studies, as well as the Swedish BASIC and Mom2B studies facilitate the study of prevalence of perinatal mental disorders, and further provide opportunity to prospectively test etiological hypotheses, yielding comprehensive suggestions about the underlying causal mechanisms. The large sample size, extensive follow-up, multiple measurement points, large geographic coverage, biological sampling and the possibility to link data to national registries renders them unique. The use of novel approaches, such as the digital phenotyping data in the novel application-based Mom2B cohort recording even voice qualities and digital phenotyping, or the Danish study design paralleling a natural experiment are considered strengths of such research. Conclusions: Nordic data sources have contributed substantially to the existing evidence, and can guide future work focused on the study of background, genetic and environmental factors to ultimately define vulnerable groups at risk for psychiatric disorders following childbirth.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Vol/bind76
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)423-432
ISSN0803-9488
DOI
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
With support from the European Research Council and the Icelandic Research Fund, the Stress-And-Gene Analysis -SAGA- cohort was established in 2018 with the overarching aim to increase knowledge of the role trauma and stressful life events in women’s health ( www.afallasaga.is ). In 2018-2019, 31.795 women, representing approximately 30% of the total female population in Iceland, responded to an extensive questionnaire on lifetime exposure to trauma and stressful life events, as well as on the status of their general health, with emphasis on mental health, including symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety as well as female specific symptomologies, e.g. lifetime history of premenstrual symptoms and pregnancy- and postpartum depression measured with the modified version of Edinburgh Perinatal Depression Scale (lifetime version). With the unique national genetic resources in Iceland as well as ongoing record linkages to the national registers, this cohort offers great opportunities to significantly advance the existing knowledgebase on the role of genetic- and environmental factors in maternal mental health.

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