A recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition reported an association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and depressive symptoms among pregnant women.
Prenatal depression, which is estimated to affect 1 out of every 7-8 pregnant women in the United States, is associated with an increased risk of adverse birth outcomes. It is also associated with a higher risk of postpartum depression. Although there is still much to understand about the relationship between diet and mental health, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied and promoted dietary patterns. Yet, the role of diet and/or dietary factors on depressive symptoms during pregnancy is limited in the United States and globally.
To bridge this knowledge gap, Vanessa Oddo (Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois Chicago) and colleagues investigated the relationship between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and depressive symptoms among pregnant women in the United States. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES; 2005-2018), a nationally representative survey conducted to assess the health and nutritional status of Americans, was utilized for this study. Participants were women, aged 18-44 years of age with a positive urine pregnancy test. The Mediterranean diet score (aMED) was calculated using 1, 24-hour dietary recall, which ranged from 0-8. The aMED score was then dichotomized as high (>3) compared with low (<3). The Patient Health Questionnaire-9, which measures depressive symptoms, was dichotomized as lower compared with higher scores. The study investigated the association between aMED adherence and high depressive symptoms.
Approximately 5% of pregnant women had moderate to severe depressive symptoms, and 45% were highly adherent to a Mediterranean diet. Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower odds of depressive symptoms. Although there is still much to understand about the relationship between diet and depressive symptoms, this relationship merits further examination given the public significance of promoting mental wellness among pregnant women.
Oddo VM, Moise C, Welke L, Peñalver Bernabé B, Maki P, Koenig MD, Pezley L, Xia Y, Tussing-Humphreys L. Mediterranean Diet Adherence and Depressive Symptoms among a Nationally Representative Sample of Pregnant Women in the United States. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 10, October 2023, Pages 3041-3048, doi.org/10.1016/j.tjnut.2023.08.022.
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