SINGAPORE: A recent report from KK Women and Children’s Hospital (KKH) has shed light on the prevalence of antenatal depression among local pregnant women, revealing that 8 per cent of pregnant women experience this mental health condition.

KKH is the first local hospital to initiate prenatal depression screening as a routine component of check-ups for pregnant women in their second trimester. The measure, set in motion since December 2022, is expected to positively impact approximately 12,000 pregnant women annually.

To date, KKH has conducted antenatal depression screenings for around 1,300 pregnant women. The results have unveiled a concerning trend – a 47 per cent increase in the number of pregnant women grappling with postpartum depression compared to figures before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The screening process under KK Hospital’s antenatal depression program involves pregnant women completing a mood questionnaire and discussing the results with their attending physicians. Depending on the outcome of the assessment, doctors may recommend pregnant women requiring assistance to consult with psychiatrists or clinical counsellors. More severe cases will be referred for treatment through outpatient clinics under the care of psychiatrists.

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Antenatal depression, often called prenatal depression, is a form of clinical depression during pregnancy. It can have detrimental effects on both the mother and the developing fetus, making early detection and intervention crucial.

KKH’s screening program is a pivotal step toward ensuring the mental health of pregnant women in Singapore. The surge in postpartum depression cases post-COVID-19 is a stark reminder of the importance of early intervention and support.