An exploratory study of vitamin D levels during pregnancy and its association with postpartum depression

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Psychiatry Research Communications


Background and objectives: High prevalence of suboptimal vitamin-D levels is observed in pregnant Australian women. Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most prevalent mood disorder associated with childbirth and it is suggested low vitamin-D is associated with depression. There is minimal research investigating antenatal screening of vitamin-D. Additionally, there is conflicting research on the link between vitamin-D levels during pregnancy and developing PPD. Aims were to investigate antenatal screening of vitamin-D and prevalence of suboptimal vitamin-D levels among pregnant women in rural Australia, and to explore the link between low levels of vitamin-D and PPD. Methods: A retrospective observational study was conducted at a rural general practice in Australia. The percentage of women screened and the levels of vitamin-D at time of screening was profiled. Additionally, the association between antenatal vitamin- D levels, risk factors for PPD and developing PPD were assessed. Results: 57.1% of women were screened during the antenatal period for vitamin-D. 66.3% had serum vitamin-D below optimal levels (23.9% deficient; 42.4% suboptimal). Women with PPD had significantly lower levels of vitamin-D antenatally (p ​< ​0.01) compared to women without PPD. PPD was significantly negatively correlated with antenatal vitamin D levels (p ​< ​0.01). Conclusion: Doctors screened over half of women for vitamin-D in the antenatal period and the majority of pregnant women had below optimal levels of vitamin D. Low vitamin-D levels during pregnancy is associated with developing PPD. Future research should investigate effects vitamin-D supplementation may have on reducing incidence of PPD and other adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with low antenatal levels of vitamin-D.

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