Low maternal serum vitamin D during pregnancy and the risk for postpartum depression symptoms

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2014 Jun;17(3):213-9. doi: 10.1007/s00737-014-0422-y. Epub 2014 Mar 25.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Depression, Postpartum / blood
  • Depression, Postpartum / etiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second / blood*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / psychology


  • Vitamin D