Risk of depression in pregnant women with low-normal serum Vitamin B12

Res Nurs Health. 2019 Aug;42(4):264-272. doi: 10.1002/nur.21951. Epub 2019 May 22.


High prevalence rates of both Vitamin B12 insufficiency and depressive symptoms exist in pregnant women. Although the association between depressive symptoms and certain nutrient deficiencies like iron, folate, or Vitamin B12 has been established, the specific relationship between low-normal serum Vitamin B12 levels and depressive symptoms in pregnant women in the United States has not been studied closely. Using 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, a secondary analysis was conducted to examine the association between low-normal serum Vitamin B12 level and depression, as measured by a score of 10 or higher on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, in pregnant women (N = 174). In bivariate regression models, Vitamin B12 level, experiencing poverty, and pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) were significant predictors of depression. In multivariate logistic regression models, pregnant women with low-normal serum Vitamin B12 levels (OR = 3.82, 95% CI [1.10-13.31], p < 0.04) were 3.82 times more likely to experience depression, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, pre-pregnancy BMI, and the biomarkers hemoglobin and folate. Identifying and treating pregnant women with low-normal Vitamin B12 levels may enhance prenatal depression management.

Keywords: antenatal depression; depression; serum Vitamin B12.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology*
  • Pregnant Women
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin B 12 / blood*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin B 12 Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Vitamin B 12