Postpartum depression (PPD) is a debilitating mental illness affecting approximately 13% of mothers after birth. Both genetic and psychosocial factors contribute to PPD risk, but very little is known about how these factors interact. We tested whether the rs53576 polymorphism in the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene accounts for variation in the impact of low social support as a risk factor for depression among mothers during the perinatal period. New mothers (N = 220) provided saliva or blood DNA samples and completed surveys assessing PPD symptoms and perceived social support. In a significant interaction, social support from the baby’s father predicted PPD symptoms to a greater extent among mothers with the GG compared to AG and AA genotypes. These results add to converging evidence that variation in OXTR rs53576 moderates the impact of the social environment on PPD.
Bhatti, P., Delaney, T., Poulin, M., & Hahn-Holbrook, J. (2019). Oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) and father support interact to predict depressive symptoms postpartum. Biological Psychology. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.03.015
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