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Clinical index to quantify the 1-year risk for common postpartum mental disorders at the time of delivery (PMH CAREPLAN): development and internal validation


Background — Common postpartum mental health (PMH) disorders such as depression and anxiety are preventable, but determining individual-level risk is difficult.

Aims — To create and internally validate a clinical risk index for common PMH disorders.

Method — Using population-based health administrative data in Ontario, Canada, comprising sociodemographic, clinical and health service variables easily collectible from hospital birth records, we developed and internally validated a predictive model for common PMH disorders and converted the final model into a risk index. We developed the model in 75% of the cohort (n = 152 362), validating it in the remaining 25% (n = 75 772).

Results — The 1-year prevalence of common PMH disorders was 6.0%. Independently associated variables (forming the mnemonic PMH CAREPLAN) that made up the risk index were: (P) prenatal care provider; (M) mental health diagnosis history and medications during pregnancy; (H) psychiatric hospital admissions or emergency department visits; (C) conception type and complications; (A) apprehension of newborn by child services (newborn taken into care); (R) region of maternal origin; (E) extremes of gestational age at birth; (P) primary maternal language; (L) lactation intention; (A) maternal age; (N) number of prenatal visits. In the index (scored 0–39), 1-year common PMH disorder risk ranged from 1.5 to 40.5%. Discrimination (C-statistic) was 0.69 in development and validation samples; the 95% confidence interval of expected risk encompassed observed risk for all scores in development and validation samples, indicating adequate risk index calibration.

Conclusions — Individual-level risk of developing a common postpartum mental health disorder can be estimated with data feasibly collectable from birth records. Next steps are external validation and evaluation of various cut-off scores for their utility in guiding postpartum individuals to interventions that reduce their risk of illness.



Vigod SN, Urbach N, Calzavara A, Dennis CL, Gruneir A, Thombs BD, Walker M, Brown HK. Br J Psychiatry. 2023; Jun 21 [Epub ahead of print].

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