PhD in Nursing Science Program

Amy R. Lamb

Depression and Vitamin D in Pregnancy


Dissertation under the direction of Professor Melanie Lutenbacher


Depression is a serious problem affecting 8-27% of all pregnant women. Current research suggests that pregnant women with low vitamin D levels are at increased risk for depression, however research in this area is limited and conflicting. Studies also indicate that many pregnant women have significantly low vitamin D levels despite taking prenatal vitamins. In light of rising rates of depression, growing concern over vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy, and conflicting evidence regarding the association between depression and vitamin D in pregnancy more work is needed to better understand the associations between vitamin D and depression. This descriptive longitudinal study explored the associations between levels of depressive symptoms and vitamin D in a sample of 125 pregnant women. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screen (EPDS) in the first and third trimesters. Vitamin D levels were measured using 25OHD serum levels collected in the first trimester and at time of delivery. Low levels of vitamin D were associated with high depressive symptoms over time in this sample (r=-0.30, p=.005). Low vitamin D levels may be an important risk factor for increased depressive symptoms in pregnancy. Further studies examining underlying mechanisms and supplementation are needed.