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Postpartum mental health of immigrant mothers by region of origin, time since immigration and refugee status: a population-based study

Vigod SN, Bagadia AJ, Hussain-Shamsy N, Fung K, Sultana A, Dennis CE. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2017; 20(3):439-47. Epub 2017 Apr 4.


Immigrant women are at high risk for postpartum mental disorders. The purpose of this study was to understand how rates of postpartum mental health contact differ among immigrant women by region of origin, time since immigration, and refugee status. We conducted a population-based cohort study of immigrant mothers in Ontario, Canada, with children born from 2008 to 2012 (N& = 123,231). We compared risk for mental health contact (outpatient, emergency department, inpatient hospitalization) in the first postpartum year by region of origin, time since immigration, and refugee status, generating adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East were more likely to have outpatient mental health contact than a referent group of immigrants from North America or Europe (aOR 1.07, 95% CI 1.01-1.14); those from East Asia and the Pacific, Southern Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa were less likely (0.64, 0.61-0.68; 0.78, 0.74-0.83; 0.88, 0.81-0.94). Refugees were more likely to have contact than non-refugees (1.10, 1.04-1.15); those in Canada <5 years were less likely than longer-term immigrants (0.83, 0.79-0.87). Refugees were more likely to have an emergency department visit (1.81, 1.50-2.17) and a psychiatric hospitalization than non-refugees (1.78, 1.31-2.42). These findings have implications for targeted postpartum mental health service delivery targeting certain immigrant groups and particularly refugees.

Keywords: Ethnicity and culture Pregnancy Mental health Women’s health

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