Postpartum depression and child growth in Tanzania: A cohort study

Christina Elise Holm‐Larsen Frederikke Kjerulff Madsen Jane Januarius Rogathi Rachel Manongi Declare Mushi Dan Wolf Meyrowitsch Tine Gammeltoft Geofrey Nimrod Sigalla Vibeke Rasch
Publication year: 


To examine the association between postpartum depression and child growth in a Tanzanian birth cohort.


Prospective cohort study.


Moshi, Tanzania.


Pregnant women over the age of 18 who sought antenatal care at two health clinics in Moshi, and the children they were pregnant with, were assessed for inclusion in this study.


The women were interviewed twice during pregnancy and three times after birth, the final follow‐up taking place 2‐3 years postpartum. Signs of postpartum depression were assessed approximately 40 days postpartum with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

Main outcome measures

Child growth was assessed with anthropometric measurements at 2‐3 years of age, and expressed as mean z‐scores.


1128 mother‐child pairs were followed throughout the duration of the study. 12.2% of the mothers showed signs of postpartum depression. Adjusted mean height‐for‐age z‐score (HAZ) was significantly lower at 2‐3 years follow‐up for children of mothers with postpartum depression, compared to children of mothers without (difference in HAZ: ‐0.32, 95%CI:‐0.49;‐0.15). Adjusted mean weight‐for‐height z‐score (WHZ) was significantly increased for the children exposed to postpartum depression (difference in WHZ: 0.21, 95%CI:0.02;0.40), while there was no significant difference in adjusted weight‐for‐age z‐score (WAZ) (difference in WAZ: ‐0.04, 95%CI:‐0.20;0.12).


We found that postpartum depressive symptoms predicted decreased linear height in children at 2‐3 years of age, and slightly increased weight‐for‐height.