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Maternal Postpartum Diet and Postpartum Depression: A Systematic Review

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Compelling evidence from observational studies shows that dietary patterns play a role in the development of depression and depressive symptoms in the general population. However, few studies have specifically sought to explore the association between maternal diet in the postpartum period and PPD. The purpose of this literature review was to synthesise data from existing published studies, examining the association between maternal postpartum diet and PPD symptoms.


Relevant studies were identified by systematic search from the Cochrane, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PubMed and PsycInfo databases for articles published between 1835 and April 2020.


Of the 931 articles identified, six met eligibility criteria and were included. Four were cross-sectional and two were a cohort design. All but one study showed at least one inverse association, such that greater adherence to a healthy diet in the postpartum period was associated with fewer PPD symptoms. Specifically, if confirmed in further longitudinal and intervention studies, a balanced maternal diet with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, fish, grains, legumes, and herbs could be a potential option for helping reduce the incidence of PPD.


This review provides evidence that the postnatal diet could have an effect on PPD symptoms, although further longitudinal and intervention research is warranted.

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Brain-derived neurotrophic factor


Center for epidemiologic studies-depression


Dietary diversity score


Dietary guideline index


Edinburgh postnatal depression scale


Food frequency questionnaire


Postpartum depression


Polyunsaturated fatty acids


Randomised controlled trials


Standard deviation


Self-rating depression scale


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R.S.O. contributed to the conception and design of the work; R.S.O and A.C.U contributed to the acquisition of the data and analysis; R.S.O., A.C.U., and KB contributed to the interpretation of the data, as well as revision and preparation of the manuscript for publication. All authors approved the final manuscript.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Correspondence to Rachelle S. Opie.

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Rachelle S Opie, Alison C Uldrich, and Kylie Ball declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Opie, R.S., Uldrich, A.C. & Ball, K. Maternal Postpartum Diet and Postpartum Depression: A Systematic Review. Matern Child Health J 24, 966–978 (2020).

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