The world's first test to alert mums-to-be about whether they are risk of postnatal depression could soon be available.
The £10 test would allow mothers to get treatment and so reduce the 90,000 new mums who suffer with PND every year.
Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulous, who led the research team, said: "It is extremely important because there is evidence if you can identify women at risk early you could treat early or introduce measures early in order to stop the process of the disease."
The test uses a blood sample taken from women during the early stages of pregnancy to identify specific genes that make them more likely to develop it. Scientists believe the test could be available in five years.
The researchers, from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, believe the test could be done at a cost of between £30 to £40, or if it was automated, potentially at £10.
Postnatal depression is often identified once women start to show severe signs of the condition – such as sadness, stress, struggling to look after the baby and appetite loss.
Professor Grammatopoulous told Sky News that the research, which involved 200 pregnant women, identified two genetic variations were linked to an increased risk of developing post-natal depression – this risk was increase by up to five times.
The researchers believe women are more sensitive to a stress hormone during pregnancy because of changes in oestrogen levels. Those who have the genetic variations are unable to reset this imbalance after giving birth, making them more susceptible to the disorder.
It is hoped by identifying those with 'at risk' variations early they will be able to receive intense support before giving birth, potentially reducing numbers of those with the disorder.
The study has been published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research and Professor Grammatopoulous is now looking at how to identify further genetic changes to increase the predictive power of the test.
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