Acclaimed research on postpartum depression expands into Canada

The app-based study now includes women going through PPD in Canada, the US, and Australia

Acclaimed research on postpartum depression expands into Canada
An app-based study of postpartum depression by the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine in the US is expanding into Canada.

Responding to requests from Canadian women, a team led by the Women’s College Hospital in Ontario has gotten funding to introduce the UNC’s PPD ACT app into Canada, according to

The app collects data from women going through postpartum depression and invites some participants to provide DNA samples that could aid research into genes associated with PPD. US-based users may also access a new module aiming to determine PPD’s economic impact and burden on society.

In the study’s first year, 14,000 women enrolled in the study — an unprecedented number in terms of using an app’s social media platform to recruit women for a study involving DNA sampling.

“Launching the Android version in the US and Australia and expanding into Canada allows for an even larger group … so that we can more effectively diagnose and treat PPD in the future,” said Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, MPH. Meltzer-Brody is the director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the UNC Centre for Women's Mood Disorders and lead researcher for the study.

The research aims to eventually gather 50,000 DNA samples from around the world by expanding into additional countries. But even without reaching that goal, it has had significant impact: many participants recognized specific symptoms of PPD after completing the app’s preliminary screening module, allowing them to seek proper care and treatment.

An Android-based version of the app has recently been released in the US and Australian markets. Only the iOS version, which is already available to US and Australian participants, is now accessible to Canadian women. UNC’s partner institutions include the University of Queensland in Australia and Women's College Hospital in Toronto.

UNC has also partnered with Postpartum Support International — which aims to make public and professional communities more aware about the emotional challenges of pregnancy and PPD — to spread the word. “We will spread the message and opportunity to participate through our global network of volunteers and professional members,” said Postpartum Support International President Ann Smith.

The app is meant for women aged 18 and above who have given birth in the past and suspect they may have gone through or are going through PPD. Symptoms of the condition include anxiety, depression, guilt, irritability, or extreme sadness. The app can be downloaded at

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