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Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute
Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute

Journal of Health and Medical Sciences

ISSN 2622-7258

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open access

Published: 27 March 2020

Considering Xenobiotics as Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression: A Qualitative Systematic Review

Hailey A Mitchell, Sarah Edali, Anne TM Konkle

University of Ottawa (Canada)

journal of social and political sciences
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Pages: 119-131

Keywords: Postpartum Depression, Environment, Toxicants, Xenobiotics, Prenatal, Perinatal, Exposure, Maternal Mental Health


Postpartum depression is a serious mental health condition with onset of symptoms appearing anytime within the first four months after delivery (e.g. irritability, severe sadness, profound feelings of hopelessness, etc.). Environmental toxicants are synthetic (i.e. manufactured) or naturally found chemicals that are not produced by organisms as a result of cellular metabolism (e.g. tobacco smoke, pesticides, etc.). There is limited consideration for how exposure to environmental toxicants/xenobiotics can create adverse psychological health effects, specifically postpartum depression. The purpose of this systematic review was to determine if the literature supports a link between exposure to environmental toxicants/xenobiotics during the prenatal/perinatal period and postpartum depression and if so, to identify whether there are specific classes of xenobiotics that provide a higher risk for postpartum depression. Several databases were used to search the online literature, with the following inclusion criteria: articles published in English, publication years between 1995-2018, and with women of reproductive age (15-49 years old). The article selection process comprised of screening each article by title/abstract, followed by screening those articles based on full-text. Six categories of xenobiotics were identified among the thirty included articles. Active/passive smoke exposure was largely found to increase the risk of developing postpartum depression; dietary supplements provided mixed results; antidepressants demonstrated preventative effects; particulate air pollution was found to be associated with postpartum depression; oral contraceptives (DMPA) exhibited an increase in postpartum depressive symptoms; and organochlorine pesticides had no associative risk. Quality assessments were performed for all of the included articles, with the majority being assessed as satisfactory. This systematic review presents as a foundation for encouraging future research to investigate the link between environment and mental health, in order to attain a greater perspective.


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