Vitamin D and Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression (PPD) or postnatal depression is clinical depression that majorly affects women after the birth of a child. Those who suffer from PPD experience tiredness, sadness, mood swings, changes in eating and sleeping habits, reduced libido, anxiety and can easily become irritable. Latest research indicates Vitamin D and Postpartum Depression may be linked.

Several studies are being carried out on PPD since it can have detrimental effects on mother-child relationship and complications in the family setup. Children of mothers with PPD have reportedly been observed to experience emotional and behavioural problems.

Most cases of PPD can be effectively treated with a combination of hormone replacement therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. Some doctors even recommend taking anti depressants, SSRIs or stabilizers to control the onset of depression related symptoms. However, these may be accompanied by a set of complications.

Research is being carried out to study the occurrence and prevention of PPD in mothers. Some studies have also included the possibility of Vitamin D deficiency to be influencing the cause of PPD in women.

A research study was conducted by Robinson M, Whitehouse A and colleagues highlighting the interrelationship between ‘Low maternal serum vitamin D during pregnancy and the risk for postpartum depression symptoms’. The researches wanted to explore the possibility that low levels of 25(OH)-vitamin D in maternal serum during pregnancy is likely to be linked with a higher incidence of postpartum depressive symptoms.

They collected maternal serum at 18 weeks gestation from 796 pregnant women in Perth, Western Australia during the years 1998 and 1992 to measure their 25(OH)-vitamin D.

Most women reported postnatal depressive symptoms just 3 days after their delivery. The results indicated that women in the lowest quartile for 25(OH)-vitamin D status were much more likely to report a higher level of postnatal depression symptoms than women who were in the highest quartile for vitamin D, even after taking into consideration a range of other factors including the season of the delivery, their body mass index and other social and demographic factors. The study concluded that low vitamin D during pregnancy is a risk factor for the development of postpartum depression symptoms.

Apart from being linked to post partum depression in women, pregnant women need optimum Vitamin D levels in their body to maintain sufficient levels of phosphorous and calcium that lead to the proper development of the bones and teeth of the baby. Vitamin D deficiency may lead to stunted growth, low birth weight and skeletal problems in neonates. Low Vitamin D levels in the mother can also lead to a deficiency of Vitamin D in the baby making her at a higher risk of rickets and a host of other metabolic problems that may last well into adulthood.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, pregnant women need at least 200 IUs of Vitamin D daily if they are not exposed to Sunlight. Other experts believe that this dose is too low. It is best to consult your physician who can adjust appropriate dose for your needs depending on your Vitamin D levels.

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1 Response

  1. E Mohan says:

    Useful information!

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