Publications & Reports

Prevalence of Perinatal Depression in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

Roddy Mitchell A, Gordon H, Lindquist A, Walker SP, Homer CSE, Middleton A, Cluver CA, Tong S, Hastie R
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.


IMPORTANCE: Women who experience depression during or within a year of pregnancy are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Although those living in low- and middle-income countries are thought to be at increased risk of perinatal depression, the true prevalence remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of depression among individuals living in low- and middle-income countries during pregnancy and up 1 year post partum. DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library were searched from database inception until April 15, 2021. STUDY SELECTION: Studies were included that reported the prevalence of depression using a validated method during pregnancy or up to 12 months post partum in countries defined by the World Bank as low, lower-middle, and upper-middle income. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: This study followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) reporting guideline. Two reviewers independently assessed study eligibility, extracted data, and assessed studies for bias. Prevalence estimates were calculated using a random-effects meta-analysis model. Subgroup analyses were performed among women who were considered at increased risk of developing perinatal depression. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Point prevalence of perinatal depression was the main outcome measured as percentage point estimates with corresponding 95% CIs. RESULTS: The search identified 8106 studies, of which data were extracted from 589 eligible studies reporting outcomes of 616 708 women from 51 countries. The pooled prevalence of perinatal depression across all studies was 24.7% (95% CI, 23.7%-25.6%). The prevalence of perinatal depression varied slightly by country income status. The highest prevalence was found in lower-middle-income countries, with a pooled prevalence of 25.5% (95% CI, 23.8%-27.1%; 197 studies from 23 countries including 212 103 individuals). In upper-middle-income countries, the pooled prevalence was 24.7% (95% CI, 23.6%-25.9%; 344 studies from 21 countries including 364 103 individuals) and in low-income countries, the pooled prevalence was 20.7% (95% CI, 18.4%-23.0%; 50 studies from 7 countries including 40 502 individuals). The East Asia and the Pacific region had the lowest prevalence of perinatal depression at 21.4% (95% CI, 19.8%-23.1%) and was significantly increased in the Middle East and North Africa at 31.5% (95% CI, 26.9%-36.2%; between-group comparison: P < .001). In subgroup analyses, the highest prevalence of perinatal depression was found among women who experienced intimate partner violence, at 38.9% (95% CI, 34.1%-43.6%). revalence of depression was also high among women with HIV (35.1% [95% CI, 29.6%-40.6%]) and those who had experienced a natural disaster (34.8% [95% CI, 29.4%-40.2%]). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This meta-analysis found that depression was common in low- and middle-income countries, affecting 1 in 4 perinatal women. Accurate estimates of the prevalence of perinatal depression in low- and middle-income countries are essential in informing policy, allocating scarce resources, and directing further research to improve outcomes for women, infants, and families.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: JAMA Psychiatry
  • Published: 08/03/2023
  • Volume: Epub ahead of print