Postpartum Depression Test Based on Discovery by Jennifer Payne, MD, Is Finalist in NIH Competition

April 4, 2023 by

Jennifer L. Payne, MD

Jennifer L. Payne, MD

A potential test to identify women at risk for postpartum depression that combines a digital screening tool with a blood test – based on a UVA Health discovery – is among 12 finalists in a “Shark Tank” like National Institutes of Health competition seeking ways to improve mothers’ health.

Dionysus Digital Health is developing the test based on two biomarkers for postpartum depression identified by UVA Health’s Jennifer Payne, MD, and colleagues. Payne’s team has isolated two genes that can help researchers predict whether a new mother will experience depression.

A diagnostic test for postpartum depression, which affects up to 20% of new moms, could have a significant impact on the health of new moms and babies. Roughly 20% of maternal deaths after childbirth are from suicide. Postpartum depression can cause new moms to feel anxious and irritable, suffer self-doubt and have difficulty bonding with their baby, in addition to interfering with their ability to think, sleep and eat. For the child, maternal postpartum depression can translate into problems with cognitive, emotional and social development.

During the remainder of 2023, the 12 finalists in the RADx Tech for Maternal Health Challenge will undergo a final review to determine the feasibility of their technology, with winners expected to be announced in March 2024.

Filed Under: Clinical