Document Type



Family Medicine



Postpartum anxiety and depression has detrimental effects on the overall mental development of children. This study aims to assess the impact of postpartum anxiety and depression on children’s mental development on all sub-scales in a Pakistani population.


A quasi-experimental study was conducted in two peri-urban communities of Karachi, a mega city of Pakistan, to assess the impact of postpartum anxiety and depression on children’s growth and mental development. A total of 420 women were enrolled, who had given consent out of 651 pregnant women identified, during February 2004 to December 2005. Data for socio-demographic, home environment and family relationship variables were collected between 36 weeks of pregnancy and within 10 days of childbirth. Mother’s levels of anxiety and depression were assessed at 1, 2, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30 months of childbirth. An indigenous, validated screening instrument- Aga Khan University Anxiety and Depression scale was used and diagnostic confirmation was done through a psychologist’s interview, based on DSM IV criteria. Children’s growth and development was monitored in the same sequence using an Early Childhood Development tool that consists of five subscales; socio emotional, language, cognitive, gross motor and fine motor development. Physical growth was monitored by measuring height and weight of the child. Data was analyzed using SAS 9.2. Multivariable Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) logistic regression was conducted to identify association of postpartum anxiety and depression with each early childhood development indicator, adjusting for parental and child factors.


A significant association of postpartum anxiety and depression with delayed development on all five subscales of children’s mental development was found in our study. Interestingly, our study found that higher maternal age had adverse effects on child’s emotional whereas positive impact on child’s cognitive development. Children’s stunting had an adverse impact on all five subscales of children’s development. Male children were at higher risk for delayed language and gross motor development relative to female children.


Our study found that postpartum anxiety and depression is associated with adverse outcomes regarding children’s mental development on all sub-scales. The impact was accentuated by low family income or child’s increasing age.


BMC Psychiatry

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.