“Canada is hopefully coming soon,” says Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, director of the perinatal psychiatry program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Center for Women’s Mood Disorders. “Each country has to develop their own mechanism for DNA collection. This is being worked on now for Canada.”
Researches from the UNC’s School of Medicine and the international Postpartum Depression: Action Towards Causes and Treatment (PACT) Consortium have teamed with Apple to create a free iPhone app that women from the U.S. and Australia can use to participate in the study by answering questions about their experience with PPD.
“Apple released ResearchKit one year ago to assist investigators in using the
power of iPhones to recruit for research studies,” says Dr. Meltzer-Brody. “It has been highly successful.”
After downloading the app, women will be put through the historic Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale used by some doctors to diagnose PPD. The survey asks women 10 questions about how they’ve been feeling for the past seven days. The app will tally their score and tell them where to get help. For women who don’t have an iphone, ipads will be donated to some medical clinics in the U.S.
Some women with higher scores will be sent a “spit kit” to complete and mail back for researchers to analyze their DNA and determine whether PPD is genetic.
“Understanding the genetic basis will allow us to develop novel treatments
and ways to screen women at risk,” says Dr. Metlzer-Brody who says she hopes to get 100,000 women to participate in the study.
In a tweet to Dr. Meltzer-Brody, prominent Canadian postpartum depression researcher Dr. Simone Vigod expressed her hopes that Canada will become part of the study.
Dr. Vigod says discussions have started on applications for Canadian funding. The U.S. is able to collect DNA through spit kits with the sponsorship of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and a U.K. version is coming soon.
“It will be a number of months before the Canadian version is ready but we hope it happens soon,” says Dr. Meltzer-Brody.
Great well hurry up Canada. We’ve got a lot of women with PPD who are suffering here too. And I want my spit kit.