Review article| Volume 45, P142-149, February 2021

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A systematic review of the association between postpartum depression and neuraxial labor analgesia

Published:October 17, 2020DOI:


      • Review of association between neuraxial labor analgesia and postpartum depression.
      • Postpartum depression has long-term health implications.
      • Neuraxial analgesia is not clearly associated with postpartum depression.
      • The interaction between pain and postpartum depression is complex.



      Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common complication after childbirth, affecting 10–15% of women. It is associated with serious long-term consequences for the mother and family. Whether or not neuraxial labor analgesia mitigates the risk is uncertain and controversial. The purpose of this review was to summarize studies investigating the association between neuraxial labor analgesia and the incidence of PPD.


      A systematic literature search for randomized controlled trials and cohort studies reporting the incidence of PPD among parturients who received neuraxial analgesia compared with non-neuraxial or no analgesia. The primary outcome was the incidence of PPD between 5 and 12 weeks’ postpartum. Depression was diagnosed using a cutoff score of ≥10 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression scale, a validated screening tool. The risk of bias of each study was evaluated, and odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals calculated from raw data or reported as adjusted odds ratios.


      Eleven observational studies involving 5717 patients were included. Three studies had a critical risk, three a serious risk, and five a moderate risk of bias. Two studies reported significantly lower odds for PPD associated with neuraxial analgesia compared with non-neuraxial or no analgesia, whereas the odds ratios in the remaining nine studies were not significantly different.


      Our systematic review did not find compelling evidence for an association between PPD and labor analgesia. Studies were heterogenous in nature and had a high risk of bias. Further research controlling for confounding factors is recommended to determine if a relationship exists.


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