Having a longer maternity leave may reduce a woman's risk of postpartum depression, according to a new study.
Researchers discovered that the maximum 12 weeks of maternity leave allowed to American women by the Family and Medical Leave Act may not be sufficient time for mothers at risk for postpartum depression.
"Our study shows that women who return to work sooner than six months after childbirth have an increased risk of postpartum depression problems," says Rada Dagher, PhD, who led the team of researchers at the University of Maryland.
To conduct their study, researchers followed 800 Minnesota women for a year after they gave birth. About 7 percent of these new mothers went back to work within six weeks, 46 percent returned to their jobs by twelve weeks, and 87 percent by six months.
Women who were still on maternity leave at each of those time markers had lower postpartum depression scores than those who had returned to work, according to the findings published online December 4 in the journal Health Politics, Policy and Law.