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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence and characteristics of Postpartum Depression symptomatology among Canadian women: a cross-sectional study

Andrea Lanes*, Jennifer L Kuk and Hala Tamim

Author Affiliations

Kinesiology & Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:302  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-302

Published: 11 May 2011



This study aims to look at the prevalence and characteristics of postpartum depression symptomatology (PPDS) among Canadian women. Studies have found that in developed countries, 10-15% of new mothers were affected by major postpartum depression. Mothers who suffer from postpartum depression may endure difficulties regarding their ability to cope with life events, as well as negative clinical implications for maternal-infant attachment.


An analysis based on 6,421 Canadian women, who had a live birth between 2005 and 2006 and were part of the Maternity Experience Survey (MES), was performed. PPDS was measured based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Various factors that assessed socio-economic status, demographic factors, and maternal characteristics were considered for the multinomial regression model.


The national prevalence of minor/major and major PPDS was found to be 8.46% and 8.69% respectively. A mother's stress level during pregnancy, the availability of support after pregnancy, and a prior diagnosis of depression were the characteristics that had the strongest significant association with the development of PPDS.


A significant number of Canadian women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Findings from this study may be useful to increase both the attainment of treatment and the rate at which it can be obtained among new mothers. Interventions should target those with the greatest risk of experiencing PPDS, specifically immigrant and adolescent mothers.