Low Hemoglobin Level Is a Risk Factor for Postpartum Depression

Elizabeth J. Corwin, Laura E. Murray-Kolb, John L. Beard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


The role of maternal anemia in the development of postpartum depression (PPD) is unclear. PPD is a serious disorder that may negatively affect the physical and emotional health of a new mother and her infant. Although psychosocial factors that increase the risk of developing PPD are known, few studies have identified physiologic factors that predispose a woman to PPD. New mothers were visited at home on d 7, 14 and 28 after an uncomplicated labor and delivery. Hemoglobin (Hb) concentration was measured via finger-prick blood at each visit, and the women completed the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depressive Symptomatology Scale (CES-D) on d 28. There was a negative correlation between Hb concentration on d 7 postpartum and depressive symptoms on d 28 (r = -4.26; P = 0.009). CES-D scores (means ± SEM) on d 7 of women with normal Hb levels > 120 g/L (12 g/dL) were significantly lower (6.90 ± 1.04) than those of women with Hb levels ≤ 120 g/L (12 g/dL) [16.36 ± 3.34; t(35) = -3.632, P = 0.001]. Thus, women suffering early postpartum anemia may be at increased risk of developing PPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4139-4142
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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