The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)

Postpartum Maternal Health and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale among the Hadza Foragers


Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

April 14, 2018 , Zilker 1/2/3 Add to calendar

The postnatal period immediately following birth is a time of critical importance for both mother and offspring due to the vulnerabilities associated with internal and external health factors. Previous research has explored evolutionary origins and mismatch explanations for the onset of depression, yet few studies have directly addressed cross-cultural variation and intra-cultural diversity in the manifestation of post-partum depression in small-scale non-industrial populations. Here, we present the first investigation of postpartum maternal mood among the Hadza foragers of Tanzania. We administered the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to twenty-three women, ranging in age from 15- 40 years, all with infants under the age of 12 months. Our results suggest that eleven of the twenty-three women would be considered at risk for depression (12 cut-off score). Additionally, the mean average score of all responses (11.56%) places Hadza women above average in comparison to other populations for which we have data. We further analyzed relevant demographic characteristics, including household composition, presence of mother in camp, parity, and age at first birth and found no associations. Follow up interviews revealed that the language used in the EPDS diagnostic tool may have influenced how mothers perceived the questions, with many women interpreting questions about “sadness” after delivery to be inquiring about level of physical pain. These results suggest that an unusually high proportion of Hadza women are depressed postpartum, or that the cross-cultural applicability of clinical diagnostics needs to be re-evaluated to take into account cross-cultural perceptions of health in non-western populations.