HealthDay News — Postpartum mental health visits were higher during the COVID-19 pandemic than expected based on prepandemic patterns, according to a study published online June 7 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Simone N. Vigod, M.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues conducted a population-based, repeated cross-sectional study using linked health administrative databases in Ontario, Canada, to examine the burden of postpartum mental illness during COVID-19. Expected visit rates per 1,000 postpartum people were modeled for March to November 2020 based on prepandemic data; observed visit rates were compared to expected visit rates.

The researchers found that the visit rate was 43.5/1,000 in March 2020, with a rate difference of 3.11/1,000 and an incidence rate ratio (IRR) of 1.08 compared with the expected rate. The rate difference (10.9/1,000) and IRR (1.30) were higher in April, and this level was generally sustained through November 2020. Elevated visit rates were seen from April to November across provider types and for diagnoses of anxiety, depression, and alcohol or substance use disorders. Compared with those 91 to 365 days postpartum, people 0 to 90 days postpartum had greater observed increases from expected visit rates; small increases were seen for those living in low-income neighborhoods.


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“Increased visit rates began in March 2020, although the state of emergency was declared only midway through the month, suggesting that distress related to the pandemic translated into an increased need for care very quickly,” Vigod said in a statement.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the medical technology industry, and one also disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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