Disparities in Emergency Department Utilization Among Women with Postpartum Mood Disorders (2006-2016)

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Maternal and child health journal


INTRODUCTION: Postpartum mood disorders are associated with adverse outcomes for newborns and mothers and may require urgent evaluation. The emergency department is often a healthcare entry point, but factors associated with these emergency department visits are unknown.

METHODS: A longitudinal retrospective analysis using the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample to assess national estimates of emergency department visits by women ages 15-49 with primary diagnosis of a postpartum mood disorder between 2006 and 2016. Emergency department visit rates for postpartum mood disorders per 100,000 live births were calculated.

RESULTS: Emergency department visits related to postpartum mood disorders remained stable from 2006 to 2016 (5153 to 5390 respectively). Two-thirds of visits were by patients younger than 30. Approximately half of visits for postpartum mood disorders were funded by Medicaid (42.4-56.7%) compared to 27.4-41.2% funded by Medicaid for all other age-matched women. Of postpartum mood disorder visits 30.3% were by women from the lowest income quartile. The highest rate of emergency department visits occurred in the youngest patients (ages 15-19: 231 visits versus ages 35-49: 105 visits). Postpartum mood disorder admissions were higher than those for age-matched women with all other diagnoses (19.8% vs. 6.5%).

DISCUSSION: The high rate of women that are young and with public insurance visiting the emergency department for postpartum mood disorders demonstrates an increased risk for these disorders in these populations and an opportunity for targeted intervention by policymakers and providers. Higher admission rates for postpartum mood disorders compared to all other diagnoses reveals a chance to optimize outpatient screening and treatment.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print