The rise is a major concern for both mother and child, and experts have warned of the adverse consequences of untreated depression during pregnancy and after childbirth.
“Mothers who are mentally vulnerable are unable to function normally, or bond with their infants, and in severe cases, may be at risk of suicide.
“For the child, maternal depression can impact his or her brain development, and may affect his or her temperament, behaviour and readiness for school,” said Associate Professor Helen Chen, who heads KKH’s Department of Psychological Medicine and chairs the workgroup for the guidelines.
“There is an urgent need to address the situation, as Singapore moves into an endemic phase,” she said. To prevent the negative effects of maternal depression, the following approaches are key: Early screening, and prompt attention for anxiety and depression, preferably even before a woman is pregnant.