Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 31–37

Prenatal health behaviors and postpartum depression: is there an association?

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00737-011-0252-0

Cite this article as:
Dagher, R.K. & Shenassa, E.D. Arch Womens Ment Health (2012) 15: 31. doi:10.1007/s00737-011-0252-0


Postpartum depression is a prevalent mental disorder; however, scarce research has examined its association with prenatal health behaviors. This study investigated the associations of cigarette smoking, caffeine intake, and vitamin intake during pregnancy with postpartum depressive symptoms at 8 weeks after childbirth. Using a prospective cohort study design, participants were recruited from the postpartum floor at a hospital for women and newborns located in a northeastern city, from 2005 through 2008. Eligible women who were at least 18 years old and spoke English were interviewed in person while hospitalized for childbirth (N = 662). A follow-up home interview was conducted at 8 weeks postpartum with a 79% response rate (N = 526). Hierarchical regression analyses showed that smoking cigarettes anytime during pregnancy and not taking prenatal vitamins in the first trimester were significantly associated with worse depressive symptoms (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale). Moreover, having a colicky infant, an infant that refuses feedings, being stressed out by parental responsibility, and having difficulty balancing responsibilities were stressors associated with worse depressive symptoms. Primary health care providers should consider evaluating women for risk of postpartum depression during their first prenatal visit, identifying prenatal health behaviors such as smoking and taking prenatal vitamins.


Postpartum depression Prenatal health behaviors Maternal smoking Prenatal vitamins 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Services Administration, School of Public HealthUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Maternal and Child Health Program, Department of Family ScienceUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology, Public Health ProgramBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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