Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Modifiable Maternal Factors and Their Relationship to Postpartum Depression



Document Type



Capstone Experience/Thesis projects must be accompanied by a written component to meet the requirements of the Mahurin Honors College. This CE/T filled this requirement through a peer-reviewed article published in the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in September 2022.


The purpose of the study was to examine how modifiable maternal factors (body mass index (BMI), household income, fatigue, sleep, breastfeeding status, diet, and physical activity) relate to postpartum depression (PPD) at 6 and 12 months postpartum. Participants (n = 26) participated in two study visits (6 and 12 months postpartum) where vitals, weight, body composition (skinfold anthropometrics), and physical activity levels (Actigraph GTX9 accelerometer) were assessed. Validated instruments (BRUMS-32, Subjective Exercise Experience Scale, Pittsburg Sleep Quality index, NIH breastfeeding survey, NIH Dietary History Questionnaire, and Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale) assessed lifestyle and demographic factors of interest. PPD at six months was correlated to PPD at 12 months (r = 0.926, p < 0.001). At six months postpartum, PPD was positively correlated to BMI (r = 0.473, p = 0.020) and fatigue (r = 0.701, p < 0.001), and negatively correlated to household income (r = −0.442, p = 0.035). Mothers who were breastfeeding had lower PPD scores (breastfeeding 3.9 ± 3.5 vs. not breastfeeding 7.6 ± 4.8, p = 0.048). At 12 months, PPD was positively correlated to sleep scores (where a higher score indicates poorer sleep quality) (r = 0.752, p < 0.001) and fatigue (r = 0.680, p = 0.004). When analyzed collectively via regression analyses, household income and fatigue appeared to be the strongest predictors of PPD at six months postpartum.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Rachel Tinius, Ph.D., EP-C


Biology | Maternal and Child Health | Medicine and Health Sciences