Can Prenatal Plasma Oxytocin Concentration Predict Likelihood of Postpartum Depression? An Opportunity for Early Intervention and Prevention in a Vulnerable Population

  • Massey, Suena (PD/PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Prentice Ambulatory Care Clinic is an outpatient obstetric and gynecologic clinic within the Northwestern Memorial Healthcare System devoted to the care of high-risk patients, serving some 1000 patients per year, with approximately 600 deliveries. Most patients served by this clinic are low income Medicaid-insured women in their reproductive years who face many risk factors for poorer maternal and child outcomes. These risk factors include poverty, chronic medical illness, and relevant to this project, a greater risk of developing postpartum depression. The aim of this project is to test the hypothesis that oxytocin measured during the third trimester can be used to accurately predict the likelihood of developing postpartum depression. If proven, we can deliver existing evidence-based interventions at the Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders to identified at-risk mothers, to actually prevent postpartum depression. Our specific focus is on low income women served at the Prentice Ambulatory Care Clinic, who are at increased risk for postpartum depression, and whose children are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences associated with untreated maternal depression (see below). A secondary goal is to contribute to a greater understanding of the role of oxytocin in perinatal mood; this can inform the design of novel medications and interventions in the future.
Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/15


  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital (9/12/13)


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