Experiences of Discrimination and Depression Trajectories over Pregnancy

Amanda Noroña-Zhou, Özlü Aran, Sarah E. Garcia, Dustin Haraden, Sarah E.D. Perzow, Catherine H. Demers, Ella Marie P. Hennessey, Stephanie Melgar Donis, Melanie Kurtz, Benjamin L. Hankin, Elysia Poggi Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Research on risk factors for prenatal depression is critical to improve the understanding, prevention, and treatment of women's psychopathology. The current study examines the relation between experiences of racial discrimination and trajectories of depression symptoms over the course of pregnancy. Method: Participants completed standardized measures regarding symptoms of depression at four timepoints during pregnancy and reported on experiences of racial discrimination at one timepoint. Latent growth curve modeling was used to examine the relation between discrimination and initial levels (intercept) and trajectories (slope) of depression symptoms over pregnancy. Results: Participants were 129 pregnant individuals recruited from obstetric clinics and oversampled for elevated depression symptoms. Thirty-six percent of the participants were living at or below 200% of the federal poverty line. Fifty-four percent of the sample identified as non-Latinx White, 26% as Latinx, and 13% as non-Latinx Black. An unconditional latent growth curve modeling revealed a negative quadratic trajectory of depression symptoms during pregnancy. When women's report of discrimination was added as a predictor of depression trajectories, discrimination predicted the initial value (intercept) of depression symptoms, but not change over the course of pregnancy (slope). Specifically, higher levels of experiences of discrimination were associated with higher levels of depression symptoms. When sociodemographic and contextual covariates were included in the model, a low family income-to-needs ratio was also related to higher levels of depression symptoms. Conclusions: These findings provide evidence that women's experiences of racial discrimination and family financial strain are risk factors for prenatal depression, with implications for screening, treatment, and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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