Background — Cardiovascular symptoms in pregnancy may be a clue to psychological distress. We examined whether electrocardiogram testing in pregnant women is associated with an increased risk of subsequent postpartum depression.
Methods — We conducted a population-based cohort study of pregnant women who delivered in Ontario, Canada comparing women who received a prenatal ECG to women who did not.
Results — In total, 3,238,218 women gave birth during the 25-year study period of whom 157,352 (5%) received an electrocardiogram during prenatal care. Receiving an electrocardiogram test was associated with a one-third relative increase in the odds of postpartum depression (odds ratio 1.34; 95% confidence interval 1.29–1.39, p < 0.001).
Conclusion — The association between prenatal electrocardiogram testing and postpartum depression suggests a possible link of organic disease with mental illness, and emphasizes that cardiovascular symptoms may be a clinical clue to the presence of an underlying mood disorder.