Maternal mental health: The missing "m" in the global maternal and child health agenda.

Karina Lovell (Collaborator), Rahman Atif (Collaborator)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the physical health of women and children is emphasized, the mental aspects of their health are often ignored by maternal and child health programs, especially in low- and middle-income countries. We review the evidence of the magnitude, impact, and interventions for common maternal mental health problems with a focus on depression, the condition with the greatest public health impact. The mean prevalence of maternal depression ranges between 15.6% in the prenatal and 19.8% in the postnatal period. It is associated with preterm birth, low birth weight, and poor infant growth and cognitive development. There is emerging evidence for the effectiveness of interventions, especially those that can be delivered by non-specialists, including community health workers, in low-income settings. Strategies for integrating maternal mental health in the maternal and child health agenda are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSeminars in perinatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Maternal mental health
  • Perinatal depression
  • Postnatal depression
  • Public mental health


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