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17.10.2016 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 6/2017

AIDS and Behavior 6/2017

Perinatal Depression Among HIV-Infected Women in KwaZulu-Natal South Africa: Prenatal Depression Predicts Lower Rates of Exclusive Breastfeeding

AIDS and Behavior > Ausgabe 6/2017
Emily L. Tuthill, Jennifer A. Pellowski, Sera L. Young, Lisa M. Butler


Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) provides infants with optimal nutrition, and together with appropriate antiretroviral therapy has also been shown to decrease mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 45 to less than 1 %. However, rates of EBF are particularly low in South Africa, where rates of HIV are some of the highest in the world. Although perinatal depression has been identified as a potential barrier to EBF, little is known about its impact on EBF among HIV-infected women. A cohort study was conducted as part of a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the effect of an Information, Motivation and Behavioral skills-based intervention promoting EBF among South African women living with HIV in their third trimester (28–42 weeks) of pregnancy. At baseline and follow-up, participants were interviewed on depression symptoms (PHQ-9), and breastfeeding intentions and behavior. Multivariate logistic regressions were conducted to determine predictors of EBF at 6-weeks postpartum. A total of 68 women were enrolled and 58 women completed both baseline and follow-up assessments. Most (80.9 %) of the sample reported at least some symptoms of depression prenatally. Rates of depression were lower postpartum (47.1 %). In multivariate models, higher prenatal depression scores significantly predicted lower likelihood of EBF at 6-weeks postpartum after adjusting for demographics, condition, and intentions (AOR = 0.68, p < 0.05). Postpartum depression was not a significant predictor of EBF rates (AOR = 0.99, p = 0.96). These findings demonstrate the negative impact of prenatal depression on breastfeeding behavior. Future interventions focused on depression are warranted to identify those at risk for sub-optimal EBF. Improving maternal psychosocial well-being could be a new frontier to improving infant and young child feeding and reducing pre/postnatal transmission.

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