Women Killing Children Always Due to PPD? Huh?!

Why is it that people attribute every murder of a child to postpartum depression?

The following kind of uninformed writing, which appeared in a blog post of a mom on the very popular parenting website Strollerderby, really bugs me. It was written in a piece about the murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu in California:

“When women kill children, it’s almost always their own babies and kids, almost always due to postpartum depression.”


I’m sure the writer meant no harm, so I’m not mad at her. I just wish people were better educated about postpartum depression.

Actually, when a woman commits infanticide it’s almost never due to postpartum depression. It’s more likely to be due to postpartum psychosis, which is a different than PPD and a rare illness. AND, only a minute percentage of women with postpartum psychosis ever commit or attempt to commit such a crime. AND, if women with these illnesses were better cared for, none of this would happen in the first place.  AND, postpartum depression and psychosis only occur in the first year after childbirth, so these illnesses can’t be attributed to women who kill older children as this writer implies.

The murder of Sarah Cantu has nothing to do with postpartum depression. People need to be careful when making such blanket statements. I know it was an innocent mistake onher part, but it’s important to correct so that women are not stigmatized.

To learn the difference between the symptoms of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, check out:

Postpartum Depression Symptoms (In Plain Mama English)

Postpartum Psychosis Symptoms (In Plain Mama English)

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

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  1. Ok…it took me a minute and a click on the link to understand. The alleged murder of Sandra Cantu didn't happen because of PPD…I agree the person is sick, but not because of PPD or PPP. People with PPD or PPP deserve some kind of sympathy I feel, while this person I don't think does.
    Just my 2 cents.

  2. There are true "sicko" women out there and there are true "sick" women out there. When I speak to women on their experiences with PPD, almost all say they just wanted to give their children away. Not hurt them! That was my experience. I would have left before I would have ever hurt my daughter.

  3. I was just checking out that blog post on Strollerderby and added my 2 cents. Just the usual…from there's still so much confusion concerning the postpartum mood disorders; it's no wonder so many women are afraid to speak up and get treatment; it's so frustrating having to defend myself whenever these misconceptions pop up; almost everyone I talk to doesn't know anything about PPD and certainly don't know the difference between the postpartum mood disorders; only those who've experienced it firsthand can truly know what it's like; everyone else needs to be convinced because they tend to think it's all make-believe; I just want to beat my head against the wall, it's so frustrating; when are people going to get it????
    I also happened to see one of the comments about antidepressants being the cause of Andrea Yate's postpartum psychosis. Well, that's a new one!

  4. sittingshiva says:

    Just tagging back to something that was posted earlier in the week……..
    I agree, I don't know what the Sandra Cantu's case is doing here on this blog (NOT
    EVEN remotely connected)! But I am aghast and even perturbed that Katherine, you'd assert that perinatal disorders are definitively categorized (i.e., "…only in the first year."
    It's precisely this type of statement that makes the understanding of such a broad spectrum illness difficult to understand by those of us within the scope (first-hand experiences), let alone, those who are blind to an awareness or understanding. This is why ignorance prevails! This type of assertion does not and WILL NOT lend itself to any "postpartum progress.
    No one woman's experience with a perinatal mood disorder is identical. We can categorize similar experiences, but by no means, put boundaries on overlaps and time frames. My God! Did I not encounter my first experience with severe PPD four months postpartum? Did I not encounter PPP 18 months postpartum the second time around?!!!!!!! Yeah, even the very doctors who we assume would have somewhat of an understanding (in 2009) of perinatal mood disorders haven't made progress and continue to sugar coat the experience or state that one type of perinatal disorder can only occur within a specific time frame.
    And as one blogger alluded some time ago (but within the last two months), PPP is oversimplified in its rarity. Remember, we have to consider how the statistics are gathered: quantitative versus qualitative…of who are able to come forward (not incarcerated or hospitalized), how it's reported (I don't think doctors are tallying up a nationwide registry for each woman that hits the PPP mark), and observational vs. clinical reports.