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Effectiveness of Supplemental Calcium in Preventing Postpartum Depression

This study has been completed.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by:
Oregon Health and Science University Identifier:
First received: September 26, 2005
Last updated: March 19, 2014
Last verified: December 2007
This study will evaluate the effectiveness of taking supplemental calcium while pregnant in reducing the risk of postpartum depression.

Condition Intervention Phase
Depression, Postpartum
Drug: Elemental calcium (as carbonate)
Phase 4

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double-Blind
Primary Purpose: Prevention
Official Title: Calcium for the Prevention of Postpartum Depression

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Oregon Health and Science University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Score on Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale; measured at Weeks 6 and 12 after childbirth
  • Symptoms of depression; measured throughout the study with a standard psychiatric interview

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Calcium effects on depression; measured througout pregnancy

Estimated Enrollment: 238
Study Start Date: April 2002
Study Completion Date: August 2007
Primary Completion Date: December 2005 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

Postpartum depression is a combination of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that occur after childbirth. The rapid drop in estrogen and progesterone levels, as well as the social and psychological changes resulting from the birth of a child, can often trigger depression in women. Common symptoms include crying, irritability, fatigue, loss of appetite, and feelings of guilt and anxiety. Women who develop postpartum depression often feel unable to care for their baby or themselves. Postpartum depression is common; it is estimated that about 10 percent of new mothers experience some symptoms of depression following delivery. Risk factors include a personal or family history of depression and a history of suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of calcium supplements taken during pregnancy in reducing the likelihood of postpartum depression in women at risk for developing this condition.

Pregnant women who are at risk for developing postpartum depression will be enrolled in this study when they are between 16 to 26 weeks pregnant. All recruited women will undergo psychological testing for screening purposes. Women who are found to be depressed or suffering from other psychiatric disorders during screening will be referred to alternative treatment and will not be enrolled in this study. All participants will then be randomly assigned to receive either a calcium supplement (2 grams) or placebo on a daily basis. Treatments will continue throughout the remainder of each woman's pregnancy and for 12 weeks after she gives birth. Outcome measurements will include standardized questionnaires and psychiatric interviews to assess depression levels. If any participant exhibits significant depressive symptoms, she will be referred for psychiatric treatment. All measurements will be assessed at Weeks 26, 32 and 38 of the pregnancy, and 6 and 12 weeks after giving birth.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Less than 26 weeks pregnant
  • At risk for postpartum depression due to a family or personal history of depression or history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Currently depressed
  • Currently taking medications for depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia
  • History of medication treatment for depression within 3 months of study entry
  • Any of the following illnesses: diabetes, kidney disease, parathyroid disease, or untreated thyroid disease
  • Currently taking a diuretic or calcium channel blocker
  • Does not speak English
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00228033

United States, Oregon
Oregon Health & Science University
Portland, Oregon, United States, 97239-3098
Sponsors and Collaborators
Oregon Health and Science University
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Principal Investigator: Daniel C. Hatton, PhD Oregon Health and Science University
  More Information

Harrison-Hohner J, Coste S, Dorato V, Curet LB, McCarron D, Hatton D. Prenatal calcium supplementation and postpartum depression; an ancillary study to randomized trial of calcium for prevention of preeclampsia. Archives of Women's Mental Health 3(41):141-146, 2001. Identifier: NCT00228033     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R21MH063242 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
Study First Received: September 26, 2005
Last Updated: March 19, 2014

Keywords provided by Oregon Health and Science University:
Postpartum Depression

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Depressive Disorder
Depression, Postpartum
Behavioral Symptoms
Mood Disorders
Mental Disorders
Puerperal Disorders
Pregnancy Complications
Calcium, Dietary
Calcium Carbonate
Bone Density Conservation Agents
Physiological Effects of Drugs
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Gastrointestinal Agents processed this record on April 24, 2017