Obesity and the association with maternal mental health symptoms

Kelly E. Ruhstaller, Michal A. Elovitz, Marilyn Stringer, C. Neill Epperson, Celeste P. Durnwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the association between maternal obesity and mood disorders including depression, anxiety, stress, and pregnancy-specific stress during pregnancy. Study design: This was a planned secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study investigating factors associated with preterm delivery. The cohort included women who initiated prenatal care before 20 weeks with a singleton pregnancy. Maternal mental health was assessed using four standard psychosocial behavioral measures to screen for depression, pregnancy-specific stress, anxiety, and stress. Screen positive scores for each tool were established based on previously published “high” scores. Results: Of the 1010 women included in the cohort, 355 (35.1%) were obese. There was no significant difference in the number of obese women with stress (64.2% versus 68.4%, p = 0.18), pregnancy-specific stress (26.2% versus 22.1%, p = 0.15), or anxiety (38.6% versus 41.2%, p = 0.42); however, a greater number of obese women did report symptoms consistent with major depression when compared to women with BMIs <30 (30.4% versus 21.2%, p < 0.01). Conclusion: Obese women had higher rates of depression in early pregnancy compared to nonobese women. As many of the health behavior interventions for obese women during pregnancy have proven ineffective, incorporating depression screening and treatment into prenatal care may improve perinatal outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1897-1901
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number16
StatePublished - 18 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Maternal obesity
  • depression
  • mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Obesity and the association with maternal mental health symptoms'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this