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Maternal diet, depression and antidepressant treatment in pregnancy and across the first 12 months postpartum in the MPEWS pregnancy cohort study

Galbally, M.ORCID: 0000-0003-3909-1918, Watson, S.J.ORCID: 0000-0001-7228-3490, Boyce, P., Anglin, R., McKinnon, E. and Lewis, A.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-2519-7976 (2021) Maternal diet, depression and antidepressant treatment in pregnancy and across the first 12 months postpartum in the MPEWS pregnancy cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 288 . pp. 74-82.

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There is increasing interest in the association between perinatal depression and diet including whether diet may have an impact on depressive symptoms and equally whether depression influences diet. Furthermore, whether pharmacological treatment of depression with antidepressant medication also may influence diet.


We examine diet, perinatal depression, and antidepressant use in 442 women recruited in early pregnancy and followed until 12 months postpartum as part of the Mercy Pregnancy Emotional Wellbeing Study. Measures included Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM at recruitment in early pregnancy and comprehensive dietary intake questions, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, and self-report and recorded antidepressant use at third trimester and 6 and 12 months postpartum.


This study found that those women with untreated, current depression in pregnancy had higher unhealthy takeaway food intake across the perinatal period compared to those taking antidepressant medication or healthy control women, albeit the overall effects were small and the clinical significance unknown. Higher depressive symptoms in the postpartum were also associated with higher takeaway intake. There was no difference in fruit and vegetable intake between the three groups and intake was highest for all women late in pregnancy and declined in the postpartum period. In all, women's takeaway food intake increased from pregnancy across the postpartum.


Lack of information on pre-pregnancy diet.


Unhealthy takeaway intake was found to be associated with depression; however, for those women who took antidepressant treatment, their diet patterns were similar to healthy controls. Future research should examine the relationship of treatments for depression in addition to depression and associated dietary behaviours.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier B.V.
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