The Relationship between Household Food Insecurity and Depressive Symptoms among Pregnant Women: A Cross Sectional Study
Objective: There is growing evidence suggesting that household food insecurity (HFI) is associated with adverse outcomes on mental health; however, limited evidence exists for pregnant women. This study was conducted to determine the relationship between HFI and depressive symptoms among a sample of pregnant women.
Method: This cross sectional study was performed on 394 pregnant women referring to the health centers located in Qom, Iran, from October 2017 to March 2019. HFI was evaluated using an 18-item US Household Food Security Survey Module. The Beck Depression Inventory-II questionnaire was applied to determine the severity of depressive symptoms. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the factors associated with elevated depressive symptoms in the study population.
Results: The mean (± standard deviation) age of the study population was 28.59 ± 7.28 years. Almost 48% of participants were food insecure, and 37% experienced elevated levels of depressive symptoms during pregnancy. The prevalence of elevated depressive symptoms was significantly higher in food-insecure (P < 0.001) and unemployed (P = 0.02) women, while it was significantly lower in women with higher education levels (P < 0.001). In the adjusted model, it was revealed that HFI was significantly associated with the higher likelihood of having elevated depressive symptoms (OR = 3.31, 95% CI = 2.07, 5.29), while the higher level of education was negatively associated with the levels of depressive symptoms (OR = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.20, 0.79).
Conclusion: HFI was positively associated with the severity of depressive symptoms in a sample of pregnant women. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding. Meanwhile, routine screening of HFI for all pregnant women in the community health centers is recommended.
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