Genetic Counseling Program

Untitled Document

Exploring the Relationship Between Diagnoses of Congenital Anomalies or Genetic Conditions and Postpartum Depression:  A Retrospective Study  By Meagan Wisenhart

Capstone Project Committee: Pamela Reitnauer, MD, PhD, MPH (UNCG), Chair; Randi C. Stewart, MS, CGC (UNCG); Marion Earles, MD (Cone Health); and Scott Richter, PhD (UNCG), Statistical Consultant

10-15% of new mothers are affected by postpartum depression (PPD), making it the most common complication of childbirth. Though childcare stress is a risk factor for PPD, there has not been significant research on the relationship between caring for infants with congenital anomalies and/or genetic conditions and experiencing PPD.  The need for research in this area is especially apparent as the exponential growth in the field of genetics has increased the number of genetic diagnoses in infants through newborn screening, molecular genetic, and cytogenetic testing. The goal of this study was to examine the association between diagnoses of congenital anomalies and specific genetic conditions in infants and PPD in their mothers. It was hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation.  This was a retrospective study of data collected from Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine (TAPM) clinics, and variables that were assessed included Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Screen (EDPS) scores, presence of congenital anomalies/genetic conditions (ICD-9 codes), language of screen completion, maternal age, gravidity and parity, whether infants were cared for in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), whether mothers were referred to social work, and whether Tots of Teens (TOTs), a program that provides additional services to teenage mothers and their children, evaluated mothers and infants.  There was a significant difference in the rates of PPD between mothers of infants with congenital anomalies and/or specific genetic diagnoses and mothers whose infants did not have congenital anomalies and/or specific genetic diagnoses, with the former group having almost twice the rates of PPD as the latter group.  These results indicate that having an infant with a congenital anomaly or genetic condition may be a risk factor for experiencing PPD.  Observations that were noteworthy but not statistically significant included teenage pregnancy, low gravidity and parity, and completing a PPD screen in English rather than Spanish being associated with higher incidences of PPD.

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  • "I chose to attend UNCG because of its shared learning environment and the access to some of the leading institutions in the country. "



  • "UNCG is a great fit for me. The program directors have extensive experience in the world of genetic counseling and provide you with opportunities to work with some of the best medical centers in the country. Our location allows us to have expert guest lecturers, many of whom you also get to work alongside or observe in your clinical rotations in your second year. We also have some really wonderful and unique opportunities as a part of this program: we observe in syndrome specific support groups and clinics, tour genetic laboratories, and are matched with a family with a genetic disease to learn what it is like to live with a genetic condition. Finally, our directors are genuinely invested in each of us, and care about our success and getting to know each of us personally."




  • "The director and assistant director do their best to ensure that our program provides a collaborative learning experience.  Both are active members of the Genetic Counseling community and strive to introduce you to all aspects of this field.  We also have renowned clinical sites and the beautiful state of North Carolina at our disposal.”