Pregnancy

FDA approves first postpartum depression drug

Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Maryland.
Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first-ever drug for the treatment of postpartum depression.

Why it matters: The injectable drug, to be called Zulresso, offers new hope for mothers who experience symptoms of postpartum depression after pregnancy, including feelings of sadness and anxiety that might interfere with their ability to provide their babies with care. The symptoms can be severe and even life threatening.

Childbirth is more deadly for black mothers

Room in a MAternity ward
A maternity ward. Photo: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Racial disparities in health are getting better, but there's still a deep and persistent inequity between the health of white and black mothers. "Put simply, for black women far more than for white women, giving birth can amount to a death sentence," Harvard's public-health school notes in its magazine.

By the numbers: Maternal mortality is on the rise overall in the U.S., according to Harvard. On average, the mother dies in 18 out of every 100,000 births. For white women, it's about 12 deaths per 100,000 births. But for black women, the mortality rate is over 3 times higher — 40 deaths per 100,000 births.

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