Pregnancy is a time of vulnerability for vitamin D insufficiency, and there is an emerging literature associating low levels of 25(OH)-vitamin D with depressive symptoms. However, the link between 25(OH)-vitamin D status in pregnancy and altered risk of postnatal depressive symptoms has not been examined. We hypothesise that low levels of 25(OH)-vitamin D in maternal serum during pregnancy will be associated with a higher incidence of postpartum depressive symptoms. We prospectively collected sera at 18 weeks gestation from 796 pregnant women in Perth (1989–1992) who were enrolled in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study and measured levels of 25(OH)-vitamin D. Women reported postnatal depressive symptoms at 3 days post-delivery. Women in the lowest quartile for 25(OH)-vitamin D status were more likely to report a higher level of postnatal depression symptoms than women who were in the highest quartile for vitamin D, even after accounting for a range of confounding variables including season of birth, body mass index and sociodemographic factors. Low vitamin D during pregnancy is a risk factor for the development of postpartum depression symptoms.
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We acknowledge the support via core funding from the Raine Medical Research Foundation, The University of Western Australia (UWA), the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, the UWA Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Science, the Women and Infants Research Foundation and Curtin University. The Raine Study is also funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC; Grant Nos. 963209, 211912, 003209 and 353514), Australian Health Management, the Telstra Foundation, the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation, the National Heart Foundation of Australia and Beyond Blue. Dr. Robinson is funded for this research by Australian Rotary Health and the NHMRC. A/Prof Whitehouse is supported by a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (no. 1004065). We thank biostatistician Patrick Fitzgerald for his assistance with the paper. We are extremely grateful to all the families who took part in this study and the Raine Study team, which includes data collectors, cohort managers, data managers, clerical staff, research scientists and volunteers.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
Prue H. Hart and Merci M.H. Kusel are equal last authors.
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Robinson, M., Whitehouse, A.J.O., Newnham, J.P. et al. Low maternal serum vitamin D during pregnancy and the risk for postpartum depression symptoms. Arch Womens Ment Health 17, 213–219 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-014-0422-y
- Vitamin D
- Postpartum blues
- Perinatal mental health
- Environmental exposure
- Postnatal depression