By Luke Kirkness

A new study will investigate whether vitamins and minerals can help lift the mood of pregnant women.

Psychology PhD student Hayley Bradley is recruiting pregnant women for the new clinical trial at the University of Canterbury's Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group.

Antenatal depression and anxiety are serious mental health problems and are among the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide, according to Bradley.


"New Zealand has one of the highest rates of depression and anxiety among pregnant women in the developed world, between 12 to 25 per cent," she said.

Current treatments include antidepressant medication or psychotherapy. But given the risks associated with in-utero exposure to antidepressants and barriers such as access and cost associated with psychotherapy, many pregnant women remain untreated.

Emerging evidence also suggests that poor diet and nutritional deficiency may be correlated with postnatal depression.

"Alternative interventions are therefore desperately needed," Bradley said.

"We want to see if vitamins and minerals can help pregnant women deal better with low mood and anxiety,

"Evidence has accumulated over the last decade showing large, beneficial effects of broad-spectrum vitamin and mineral interventions for various mental health problems suggesting that micronutrient interventions could be a promising way forward."

The study may provide evidence for better health, wellbeing, and development of infants exposed to nutrients in-utero.

Pregnant women interested in the study can find more information and register for the pregnancy study at, or contact Hayley Bradley on (03) 364 2987 extension 7705, or email: