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Can Oxytocin Level Predict Postpartum Depression?

The recruitment status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years.
Verified July 2015 by Suena H Massey, MD, Northwestern University.
Recruitment status was:  Active, not recruiting
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Suena H Massey, MD, Northwestern University Identifier:
First received: December 12, 2013
Last updated: July 29, 2015
Last verified: July 2015

The goal of this research study is to understand the relationship between the hormone oxytocin and postpartum mood. Based on previous research, the investigators hypothesize that lower plasma oxytocin concentration during pregnancy will predict a greater likelihood of postpartum depression. Second, it is expected that oxytocin concentration in the third trimester will show an inverse relationship with the severity of depressive symptoms at 4 - 6 weeks postpartum.

Potential participants in the study will be screened for eligibility during their third trimester of pregnancy, using a combination of questionnaires. Those who are eligible for participation will have one blood sample drawn at this time, and then be asked to complete a follow up questionnaire at 4-6 weeks postpartum to assess for depressive mood symptoms. This follow up questionnaire can be completed either in person or on the telephone. Anyone who is interested in receiving help for their mood at any point in the study will receive referrals.

Postpartum Depression

Study Type: Observational
Study Design: Observational Model: Cohort
Time Perspective: Prospective
Official Title: Can Prenatal Plasma Oxytocin Concentration Predict Likelihood of Postpartum Depression? An Opportunity for Early Intervention and Prevention in a Vulnerable Population

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Suena H Massey, MD, Northwestern University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, Self-Report (IDS-SR-30) [ Time Frame: 4-6 weeks post delivery ]
    The IDS-SR-30 is a validated, widely used tool to evaluate depressive symptoms and clinical depression. Participants will complete this questionnaire in person or through telephone interview.

Biospecimen Retention:   Samples Without DNA
A 3 milliliter (about half a teaspoon) blood sample will be obtained to measure oxytocin level.

Estimated Enrollment: 100
Study Start Date: December 2013
Estimated Study Completion Date: December 2015
Primary Completion Date: June 2015 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

Postpartum depression affects some one in five new mothers, and adversely influences maternal adaptation to motherhood. While it is known that women with a prior history of depression, or depression during pregnancy, are at elevated risk for postpartum depression, many women with no prior history of depression or other risk factors go on to develop depression in the postpartum period. Considering the grave consequences of postpartum depression on maternal infant bonding and childhood psychological development, it is critical to develop reliable methods to identify which women, who are not depressed during pregnancy, will become depressed after delivery.

The biological pathways leading to depression at any time in life, including around pregnancy, are still poorly characterized. Oxytocin, a hormone involved in delivery and lactation, has received recent attention regarding its additional role in maternal emotions and care taking behaviors after birth. Specifically, lower plasma oxytocin concentration in the third trimester of pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of depression at two weeks postpartum (Skrundz et al., 2001).

The primary goal of this study is to replicate previous findings and clarify whether oxytocin is predictive of clinically significant depression at 4 - 6 weeks postpartum, using a more comprehensive diagnostic measure for depression.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes
Sampling Method:   Probability Sample
Study Population
Healthy Pregnant Women

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. At least 18 years of age
  2. English-speaking
  3. Pregnant (third trimester at time of visit)

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Current active depression or other mental illness at time of study entry in the third trimester (past depression or anxiety is acceptable)
  2. Current antidepressant treatment
  3. Severe medical complications in current pregnancy (gestational diabetes, hypertension, thyroid disease)
  4. Signs of multiple gestation or of fetal malformation in current pregnancy
  5. Cigarette smoking beyond 10th week of gestation of current pregnancy
  6. Pre-pregnancy BMI > 32
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT02020148

United States, Illinois
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Chicago, Illinois, United States, 60611
Sponsors and Collaborators
Northwestern University
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Principal Investigator: Suena H Massey, MD Northwestern University
  More Information

Additional Information:
Responsible Party: Suena H Massey, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Identifier: NCT02020148     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 00082402
Study First Received: December 12, 2013
Last Updated: July 29, 2015

Keywords provided by Suena H Massey, MD, Northwestern University:
postpartum depression
pregnant women
women's health
mental health
baby blues
mood disorders

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Depressive Disorder
Depression, Postpartum
Behavioral Symptoms
Mood Disorders
Mental Disorders
Puerperal Disorders
Pregnancy Complications
Reproductive Control Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs processed this record on August 17, 2017