News

Adequate vitamin D supply may reduce risk of postpartum depression

April 16, 2014

A new study from Australia reports that low blood vitamin D concentrations during pregnancy seem to be a risk factor for the development of postpartum depression symptoms.

The observational study measured vitamin D concentrations in blood samples of 706 pregnant women at
18 weeks gestation and documented cases of postnatal depressive symptoms at three days post-delivery (1). The study results showed that women with the lowest vitamin D levels were significantly more likely (around twice the risk) to report postnatal depression symptoms in the first days following birth than women with the highest levels, even after accounting for a range of confounding variables including season of birth, body mass index and socio-demographic factors. In addition, low vitamin D levels were associated with an increa- sed risk of reporting a greater level of symptomatology that may indicate mood disturbance.

The researchers commented that in addition to the potential for positive impacts on health and development of the offspring, ensuring adequate intake of vitamin D during pregnancy may be one method of protecting against postpartum mood disturbance in mothers. Previous research has shown that pregnant women are more likely to be deficient or insufficient in vitamin D (2). A number of studies have found that vitamin D insufficiency may be linked to later developmental difficulties for the offspring such as language delay (3) and severe mental illness (4). The new findings support those of a smaller-scale study that reported a link between low levels of vitamin D measured postnatally and increased risk for postpartum depression (5).

References

  1. Robinson M. et al. Low maternal serum vitamin D during pregnancy and the risk for postpartum depression symptoms. Arch Womens Ment Health. Published online March 2014.
  2. Gale C. R. et al. Maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy and child outcomes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008; 62(1):68–77.
  3. Whitehouse A. J. O et al. Maternal serum vitamin D levels during pregnancy and offspring neurocognitive development. Pediatrics. 2012; 129(3):485–493.
  4. McGrath J. J. et al. Developmental vitamin D deficiency and risk of schizophrenia: a 10-year update. Schizophr Bull. 2010; 36(6):1073–1078.
  5. Murphy P. K. et al. An exploratory study of postpartum depression and vitamin D. J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc. 2010; 16(3):170–177.