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Vitamin D deficiency and depression among pregnant women

Posted on: September 12, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council


Researchers report a significant association between vitamin D status and antenatal depression in African American women.

Antenatal depression increases the risk of poor birth outcomes and is associated with postpartum depression. Antenatal depression is more common among African American women when compared with Caucasian women.

Dr Andrea Cassidy-Bushron, PhD, and colleagues set out to examine the relationship between vitamin D status and antenatal depression among pregnant women.

One-hundred and seventy-eight women were recruited from large obstetrics clinics in the Detroit area. 25(OH)D status was measured during the second trimester of pregnancy. Depression symptoms were assessed using a 20 question standardized instrument. All but 3 participants were prescribed prenatal vitamins which included 400 IU vitamin D.

About half of the participants (n=91) were considered vitamin D deficient (13.4±8.4 ng/mL) and 41.6% had elevated depressive symptoms. The researchers found that women with elevated depressive symptoms had significantly lower 25(OH)D levels (p=0.003) and were more likely to be in the vitamin D deficient category (p=0.016). Depressive symptoms were not significantly associated with any other self reported characteristic (marital status, employment status, income, alcohol use, etc.).

The researcher’s state:

“For every 1-unit increase in log (25-OHD) (corresponding to2.72ng/mL increase in 25-OHD), the odds of women having an elevated depression score decreased by 46%.”

The authors recognize vitamin D as a cost effective, safe way to support maternal and infant health, far favorable to the use of antidepressants during pregnancy.


Cassidy-Bushrow AE, Peters RM, Johnson DA, Li J, Rao DS. Vitamin D Nutritional Status and Antenatal Depressive Symptoms in African American Women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2012 Jul 23. [Epub ahead of print]

NCT. Antenatal Depression. Pregnancy. 2012.

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