Incidence of depression and influence of depression on the number of treatment cycles and births in a national cohort of 42,880 women treated with ART

C S Sejbaek, I Hageman, A Pinborg, C O Hougaard, L Schmidt
Human Reproduction 2013, 28 (4): 1100-9

STUDY QUESTION: Does prior depression in women treated with assisted reproduction technology (ART) influence the number of treatment cycles and ART live births?

SUMMARY ANSWER: Women with a depression diagnosis prior to ART treatment initiated statistically significantly fewer ART treatment cycles and had a lower mean number of ART live births compared with women with no history of depression.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Previous studies have shown an increased prevalence of depressive symptoms in fertility patients than in the comparison groups.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: A register-based national cohort study, including all women (n = 42,915) treated with IVF, ICSI, frozen embryo transfer and oocyte recipient cycle in Denmark from 1 January 1994 to 30 September 2009 extracted from the IVF register (ART cohort). Data on births and depression diagnoses were obtained by linking to the Danish Medical Birth Register (1994-2010) and the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register (1969-2010).

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: For each woman in the ART cohort, we included five age-matched women from the female background population not having received ART treatment. This comparison group was cross-linked with identical register data as the ART cohort. Women with incomplete ART information or a depression diagnosis before 18 years of age were excluded; remaining n = 42,880. The ART cohort was grouped into (i) women with a depression diagnosis and (ii) women never diagnosed with depression. In the ART group with depression, analyses were specified on women with their first depression prior to ART treatment. In total, 2.6% of the women in the ART cohort had a depression diagnosis. For the incidence rate ratio (IRR) 39,194 women from the ART cohort (3686 women were excluded due to migration) were compared with 206,005 women from the age-matched comparison group who did not receive ART treatment.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Of the women in the ART cohort with a depression diagnosis, 34.7% had their first depression diagnosis prior to ART treatment, 4.7% during ART treatment and 60.7% after ART treatment. The mean number of initiated ART cycles was significantly lower in the ART group of women having a depression diagnosis prior to ART treatment [2.55 (±1.78)] compared with the ART group of women without a depression diagnosis [3.22 (±2.31); P < 0.001; P < 0.001]. Women having a depression diagnosis prior to ART treatment had a lower mean number of ART live births [0.82 (±0.73)] compared with women without a depression diagnosis [1.03 (±0.81); P < 0.001]. The incidence rate of first and recurrent depression diagnoses in the ART cohort was significantly lower compared with the age-matched background population group; IRR = 0.80 (P < 0.001) and IRR = 0.77 (P < 0.001).

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Only clinical depression diagnoses treated in a psychiatric hospital setting are included. The age-matched comparison group from the background population is heterogeneous as it consists of women differing in fertility status (both mothers and childless women).

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Fewer women in the ART cohort developed depression over time compared with the age-matched background population, which might reflect a healthy patient effect of the women seeking ART treatment. Women with a depression diagnosis before ART treatment receive fewer ART treatments and are less likely to achieve an ART live birth. These women might be more vulnerable and we recommend that they be offered more psychiatric attention before starting, as well as during and after ART treatment.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S): Research grants are funded by the Danish Health Insurance Foundation and Merck Sharp & Dohme. The funders had no influence on the data collection, analyses or conclusions of the study. No conflict of interests to declare.


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