Depression During Pregnancy Linked to Increased Sitting, Risk of Diabetes

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Marji_041115_2Women who suffer from depression during the second trimester of pregnancy are more prone to spend lengthier amounts of time sitting down. According to new research presented at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual conference, this inactive behavior increases the chances of gestational diabetes and weight gain.

Previous studies show that inactive lifestyles can affect metabolism, vascular health, bone mineral content, decrease insulin sensitivity, lipoprotein cholesterol, and increased plasma triglyceride levels.

Compared to previous generations, people today are more likely to spend large amounts of time sitting down, due to a number of factors, including:

  • Entertainment (computer games versus jump rope)
  • Job types (desk job versus farming)
  • Advanced modes of transportation (trains and cars versus biking and walking)

In 1970, nearly 20% of all employed Americans possessed a sedentary job and 30% of those jobs required the use of high energy. In 2000, the amount of people who had light-duty jobs rose to 40%, while high-energy job roles plummeted to 20%.

The current study was led by Dr. Nithya Sukumar from the Warwick Medical School in the UK. Study researchers obtained data from questionnaires completed by 1,263 pregnant women. Participants were asked about their physical activity levels and their general emotional well-being. The questionnaires were completed during the first trimester and advanced stages of the second trimester of pregnancy.

After factoring in socio-economic status, body mass index (BMI), and age, researchers discovered that women who suffered from symptoms of depression were more likely to spend longer amounts of time being stationary.

Researchers also found that women who remained inactive conducted less physical activity during their second trimester, which led to more weight gain between the first and second trimesters. The team discovered that at 28 weeks, inactive pregnant women had higher blood glucose levels, which increased their risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Based on the findings, Sukumar believes that earlier interventions in a pregnant woman’s cognitive health and well-being might help prevent physical deterioration in the later stages of pregnancy.

Sukumar also promotes physical activity for pregnant women in order to reduce the risk of diabetes. She suggests that gestational diabetes can escalate the risk of birth complications for both mother and child, so it’s imperative for pregnant women to reduce the time they spend sitting down.

Study co-author Dr. Ponnusamy Saravanan concludes that scheduling sitting breaks may be easier to implement during pregnancy more so than attempting to increase physical activity.

Sources for Today’s Article:

Newman, T., “Depression and Diabetes Linked to Sedentary Pregnancy,” Medical News Today web site, November 4, 2015;

Sukumar, N., et al., “Sitting down for long periods when pregnant linked to weight gain and depression,” presented at the Society for Endocrinology’s annual conference, November 2–4, 2015.