The association between diet quality and mental health during the perinatal period. A systematic review

Rachel Baskin, Briony Hill, Felice N. Jacka, Adrienne O'Neil, Helen Skouteris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


While maternal nutrition during pregnancy is known to play a critical role in the health of both mother and offspring, the magnitude of this association has only recently been realized. Novel, epigenetic data suggest that maternal dietary intake has permanent phenotypic consequences for offspring, highlighting the potency of antenatal diet. To date, the relationship between poor antenatal diet and maternal mental health specifically, remains poorly understood. Therefore, we aimed to systematically review evidence that has examined associations between antenatal diet quality and the experience of depressive, anxiety and stress symptoms during the perinatal period. Methods: A search for peer-reviewed papers was conducted using Medline Complete, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Academic Search Premiere and Psychology and Behavioral Science Collection. Results: Nine studies (cohort = 4, cross-sectional = 5) published between 2005 and 2013 were eligible for inclusion in this review. A synthesis of findings revealed positive associations between poor quality and unhealthy diets and antenatal depressive and stress symptoms. Healthy diets were inversely associated with antenatal depressive and anxiety symptoms. Postnatal depressive symptoms demonstrated inconsistent results. Conclusions: Given the paucity of research examining diet quality and mental health in women during the perinatal period, further sufficiently powered studies are urgently required to examine this association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Maternal diet
  • Perinatal
  • Stress
  • Systematic review

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