iron deficiency causes depression in pregnant women

It is well known that iron deficiency can affect your mood and worsen depression, and lots of studies have looked at iron deficiency and pregnancy. But no one has ever looked for a possible link between iron deficiency and depression during pregnancy. Until now.

142 Pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 25 had their ferritin levels checked from middle to late pregnancy in this Canadian study. Testing ferritin is the most sensitive way to check for iron deficiency. The women were categorized as either iron deficient (ferritin levels of less than 12µg/L) or iron sufficient. They then had their levels of depression scored on a special test of depression during pregnancy and the first year after pregnancy known as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

Women who were iron deficient were more likely to suffer depression during pregnancy: 45% of them developed depression versus only 25% of the women who were iron sufficient. Women with low iron also had higher scores for depression: 10.14 versus 7.87.

The researchers concluded that this is the first study to show that women who have low levels of iron are 2.5 times more likely to become depressed during pregnancy and that they have higher scores for depression.


Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada 2017;doi.org/10.1016/j.jogc.2017.09.027



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