According to Sky News, the development could see pregnant women have a £10 screening test which would allow those found to be at risk to receive treatment before they give birth.
Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulos, who led the research at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, described the research as being "extremely important".
He told Sky News: "There is evidence that if you can identify women at risk early you could treat early or introduce measures to prevent or stop the process of the disease."
Talking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Emma Laing, Midwiffery Manager for Tommy's said: "Postnatal depression usually develops within four to six weeks. The most common symptoms include a low mood, feeling unable to cope and difficulty in sleeping.
"The problem is that it’s pretty common once you’ve had a baby, that you're dealing with mood changes and baby blues which hits in at day three where you get tearful after the birth. But these baby blues shouldn't last longer than a week and so if you are feeling like this, those are the signs to watch out for. You may need to speak to someone – your midwife, GP, friends and family.
"The good news is that it is treatable and getting the help will fix the problem. No one will think badly of you – it’s actually quite common. You do want to get help though, as you don’t want that to impact on bonding with your baby. You can get the advice, CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and anti depressants that are fine to take when breastfeeding. It's not until women get the treatment that they realise how low they felt."
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According to the news channel, a study of 200 pregnant women, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, found two molecular "signatures" in the genes that increased the risk of postnatal depression by up to five times.
Researchers believe that changes in oestrogen levels make pregnant women more sensitive to the stress hormone cortisol, and those with the genetic variations are unable to correct the hormonal imbalance after giving birth.
Prof Grammatopoulos has claimed he could test women for the genetic changes for £30-£40, but the cost could be reduced to £10 if the screening system is automated.
Scientists are now hoping to refine the tests still further, and the tests could be ready within five years, Sky News said.
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