Background: There are significant racial/ethnic disparities in the prevalence of postpartum depression. Prior research in the general population suggests that weight status is related to depression and that this relationship varies by race/ethnicity. However, few studies have investigated whether race/ethnicity moderates the relationship between pregnancy-related weight and postpartum depressive symptoms (PPDS). The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between pregnancy-related weight and maternal PPDS overall and by race/ethnicity. Materials and Methods: This study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (n ≈ 6950). Ordinary least-squares and logistic regression was used to examine whether pregnancy-related weight, including preconception weight status and gestational weight gain (GWG), was associated with PPDS measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D). Stratified analyses were used to assess whether these relationships varied by race/ethnicity. Results: Preconception obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2) was associated with higher levels of PPDS (β = 0.601, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.149-1.053). GWG adequacy was not associated with PPDS. Among non-Hispanic (NH) whites, preconception obesity was positively associated with PPDS (β = 1.016, 95% CI, 0.448-1.584). In contrast, among Hispanics, preconception overweight (25 kg/m2 ≤ BMI <30 kg/m2) was associated with lower levels of PPDS (β = -0.887, 95% CI, -1.580 to -0.195). There were no statistically significant relationships between pregnancy-related weight and PPDS among NH black or Asian women, but both groups were significantly more likely than NH whites to report PPDS. Conclusion: Whether and how pregnancy-related weight is associated with PPDS varies by race/ethnicity. Addressing preconception weight could help reduce overall levels of PPDS among NH whites but would likely fail to mitigate racial/ethnic disparities in postpartum mental health.
Keywords: postpartum depression; pregnancy-related weight; racial/ethnic disparities.