Final Healthy Beginnings Lab Update

   During the past 3 weeks of my individual research project in the Healthy Beginnings lab, I completed a lot of general research on the correlation between maternal depression and negative outcomes in a general context. I wrote multiple entries in my annotated bibliography to familiarize myself more with this field and specific topic of research. Soon thereafter, I began to enter data from a project funded by Anthem for the healthy beginnings project, in which I was inspired by two particular sections of the data: the first which asked pregnant incarcerated women questions about their nutritional health, and the second which showed the scale results of depression symptoms in these mothers. Thus, I immediately became intrigued to explore the correlation between poor nutrition and depression symptoms in pregnant incarcerated mothers, since the data was clearly available for me to examine. In my research efforts, I first began to look into how maternal depression during pregnancy can have physical manifestations. I learned that mothers who experience clinical symptoms of depression during pregnancy often have stomach pain, heart palpitations, short breath, and nausea. As I dug deeper into the existing research on this topic, I found an article which discussed how women who experience depression symptoms during pregnancy tend to have an increased risk of poor nutrition, often due to a lack of appetite. This solidified my desire to explore the correlation between poor nutrition and symptoms of depression in the context of pregnant incarcerated women.


    Thus, I began to select the data variables that would be the most relevant to shaping my project and research question. Of course, the two most important variables would be the answers on nutritional health and depression scale scores of these women. Then, I selected demographic factors, such as age, marital status, and race. I then added the women’s responses to whether or not this was a planned pregnancy and their reactions to finding out that they were pregnant. In order to visually present the data I have been examining, I have created a pie chart and wordle visual of the emotional reactions to pregnancy in this population to provide an explanation of the underlying factors which may have contributed to the depression symptoms that these women are facing. I will be running a correlation tests on multiple aspects of nutritional health in the upcoming week and will have hopefully wrapped up my research by then! Overall, this research experience has been incredibly fulfilling and has taught me a lot about the research process. It has been a pleasure working on a topic that I am genuinely fascinated by and I hope to continue my research efforts on child and maternal health in my future!


  1. Maddie Hamborg says:

    This sounds like a really interesting project! Are you looking at correlations between maternal stress and depression in incarcerated women? Whether or not the two are directly correlated, I’m sure you would also find a correlation between stress and nutrition.

  2. Thanks Maddie! I actually have not looked into maternal stress and depression, but that sounds like an excellent future project for me to take on in the lab. Thanks for your input!

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