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

Abstract

Purpose

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

Methods

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.

Results

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).

Conclusions

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.

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Acknowledgments

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

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Correspondence to Ozra Ebrahiminasab.

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Sheikh, M., Hantoushzadeh, S., Shariat, M. et al. The efficacy of early iron supplementation on postpartum depression, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Nutr 56, 901–908 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-1140-6

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Keywords

  • Anemia
  • Deficiency
  • Depressed
  • Ferritin
  • Postnatal