Maternal Depression

Maternal Depression… What Diet Can do for You?

Last month we spoke about postpartum depression so this month, we thought it would be interesting to discuss maternal depression.

What is maternal depression?

Maternal depression is a term which encompasses a range of conditions including prenatal depression, baby blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. These conditions can develop during pregnancy and up to a year postpartum. Research shows that maternal depression could affect both the mother’s health as well as the socioemotional and cognitive development of children.

The correlation between maternal depression, an unhealthy diet and adverse child emotional-behavioural outcomes has been well documented however, their developmental relationships throughout the pre- and postnatal periods has not yet been explored in such depth.

Maternal Depression & Diet, is there a link?

A large study involving 7814 mother and child pairs examined diet, the independent and inter-related associations of maternal depression and child emotional-behavioural development at the ages of 2, 4 and 7 years old. Potential con founders including parity, poverty, maternal education and birth complications were also evaluated, as these have been shown to influence the progression of depression (Reference 2).

What were the findings?

Taking all factors into account, the study showed that women who ate an unhealthy diet during pregnancy and the postnatal period, were more likely to have suffered from prenatal depression. Furthermore, this could also lead to higher child dysregulation up to the age of 7 years old.

In a nutshell…

Eating an unhealthy diet might increase the risk of both developing maternal depression symptoms and the abnormal development of socioemotional and cognitive function in children. Therefore, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet before, during and after pregnancy is vital in helping to prevent the onset of this condition.

As you might have gathered from this article, food is fundamental in the prevention of depression conditions. Interested in learning more? Stay tuned for our next article about tryptophan, serotonin and how they can help the fight against depression!


edinburgh nutrition Team