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NFP Report into Economic Impact of Perinatal Depression


20 November 2012 at 9:40 am
Staff Reporter
A new report claims perinatal depression and anxiety stemming from the births of children born in 2012 could cost Australia almost $500 million by the time the children turn two.


Staff Reporter | 20 November 2012 at 9:40 am


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NFP Report into Economic Impact of Perinatal Depression
20 November 2012 at 9:40 am

A new report commissioned by beyondblue reveals the cost and long-term impact of perinatal depression and anxiety. 

A new report claims perinatal depression and anxiety stemming from the births of children born in 2012 could cost Australia almost $500 million by the time the children turn two.

The PwC report, commissioned by depression Not for Profit beyondblue, says it reveals the cost and long term impact of these disorders on the community if left untreated.

Perinatal depression and anxiety is defined as any depression or anxiety experienced by a parent between the child’s conception to its first birthday.

Using projected birth numbers in 2012 and the current rates of perinatal depression in men and women, the report calculated the projected health-care and lost productivity costs to mothers, fathers, their children and the wider community of perinatal depression and anxiety not being treated.

It found that the total cost of not treating perinatal depression and anxiety stemming from approximately 290,000 births in 2012 would be $496 million by the time every one of those children had turned two.

The report says the calculations apply to costs generated from conception through to the children’s second birthday.

The report found the associated health cost relating to women who experience depression or anxiety during the perinatal period, including costs such as hospital bills as the mothers’ health worsens and leads to further illness, is $70 million for the year between the children’s first and second birthdays. The cost for fathers over the same period is $16 million.

The report also found that because women experiencing perinatal depression or anxiety are forced to take more time off work, there is an additional cost to the Australian economy of $142 million in lost productivity over the period between the children’s first and second birthdays.

The same cost to the economy of fathers’ lost productivity stemming from untreated perinatal depression or anxiety is $62 million.

The report predicts that because maternal depression and anxiety can also lead to poorer birth outcomes, such as higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight, there is an estimated associated health cost of $200 million as a result of treating these babies.

Also, treating medical conditions of children (of parents with perinatal depression and anxiety that is not treated) in the first two years after their birth is estimated at $6 million.

beyondblue Advisor to the National Perinatal Depression Initiative Dr Nicole Highet said: “This report shows the huge costs and far-reaching effects of perinatal depression and anxiety. While the debilitating personal impact of these conditions on mothers is becoming more widely acknowledged, the broader social and economic costs are rarely recognised."

“If the number of women affected by perinatal depression and anxiety was reduced by just five per cent, this would reduce the cost to the economy by $136 million. This is why it is so important to promote early detection of these conditions through education and routine screening in pregnancy and after the baby’s birth," she said. 

beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell AO said: “It’s important that women, their partners and families know the symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety, and recognise that it is not a normal part of having a baby. It’s different from the ‘baby blues’ and usually, it won’t go away without treatment.”

Beyondblue has launch two new free booklets for pregnant women, mothers and their families developed under the National Perinatal Depression Initiative which was funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments for $85 million from 2008 – 2013.

The booklets can be ordered online at www.beyondblue.org.au or by calling the beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636.



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