European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 901–908 | Cite as

The efficacy of early iron supplementation on postpartum depression, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial

  • Mahdi Sheikh
  • Sedigheh Hantoushzadeh
  • Mamak Shariat
  • Zahra Farahani
  • Ozra EbrahiminasabEmail author
Original Contribution



Evaluating early iron supplementation in non-anemic mothers with postpartum depression (PPD).


This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluated 70 mothers with PPD. One week after delivery, the mothers were randomly allocated in the iron-treated (50 mg elemental iron/daily) and placebo-treated groups. After 6 weeks, the improvement of PPD symptoms was compared between the groups.


Ferritin significantly increased in the iron-treated group (p < 0.001), but not in the placebo group (p = 0.09). After intervention, ferritin was higher in the iron-treated group (medians: 78.2 vs. 37 mg/dl, p = 0.01). The rate of iron deficiency significantly decreased in the iron-treated group (p = 0.009), but not in the placebo group (p = 0.4). After intervention, the rate of iron deficiency was higher in the placebo group (31.4 vs. 8.5 %, p = 0.01). The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) score significantly decreased in the iron-treated group (p < 0.001), but not in the placebo group (p = 0.13). After intervention, the EPDS score was lower in the iron-treated group (medians 9 vs. 12, p = 0.01). The improvement rate for PPD was significantly higher in the iron-treated group (42.8 vs. 20 %, p = 0.03). After intervention, mothers with continued PPD had lower ferritin than the improved mothers (41.8 vs. 67 mg/dl, p = 0.03). Mothers with continued depression had higher rate of iron deficiency compared to the improved mothers (27.1 vs. 4.5 %, p = 0.02).


Early iron supplementation in mothers with PPD significantly improves the iron stores and causes a significant improvement in PPD with a 42.8 % improvement rate during 6 weeks. Continued PPD might be related to the lower postpartum ferritin levels in untreated mothers.


Anemia Deficiency Depressed Ferritin Postnatal 



This research was funded by the Research Deputy of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mahdi Sheikh
    • 1
  • Sedigheh Hantoushzadeh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mamak Shariat
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zahra Farahani
    • 1
  • Ozra Ebrahiminasab
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Maternal, Fetal and Neonatal Research Center, Vali-asr Hospital, Imam Khomeini Hospital ComplexesTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  2. 2.Breastfeeding Research CenterTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran

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