The Role of Mother’s Genes and Environment on Postpartum Depression

Colter Mitchell, Princeton University
Daniel A. Notterman, Princeton University
Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Columbia University
Iulia Kotenko, Princeton University
Kate Jaeger, Princeton University
John Hobcraft, University of York
Irwin Garfinkel, Columbia University
Sara McLanahan, Princeton University

To date studies of gene and environment interactions on depression have found conflicting results, and none have focused on postpartum depression (PPD)—a form of depression that should be particularly interesting to demographic researchers. The conflicting results may stem from not accounting for the variation in daily stress due to social status. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, we examine the interaction of the 5-HTTLPR and STin2 polymorphisms of the serotonin transporter gene with indicators of mother’s early social status (measured as the parents highest level of education) and her own current social status (education and economic situation) during the first year after birth on risk of PPD. We find that the "risky" alleles are really reactive alleles, so that in high social status environments the "risky" alleles protect against PPD, but in lower social status environments the "risky" alleles predict higher probabilities of PPD.

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Presented in Session 43: Genetics and Demographic Behavior