Nutrition and postpartum study to ask pregnant women what they eat and how they feel

Julie Cooper | April 24, 2019

pregnant women

A research team of faculty, graduate students and undergraduates in the Texas State School of Family and Consumer Sciences is seeking pregnant women for a nutrition study related to postpartum depression. 

The Food, Feelings, and Family research group is looking at what expectant mothers eat, and how it affects their mood and cognition. The study’s official name, which was featured in the university’s recent Health Scholar Showcase, is “Diet and BPA exposure as predictors of ante- and post-partum emotional attachment, and cognitive impairment.” 

Dr. Michelle Lane and Dr. Sylvia Crixell
Back Row: Crystal Alvarez, Rebecca Smith, Andrea Alvarez, Erika Gonzalez. Front: JD Muraida, Regina Gillman

“We ask them questions about their mood, their depression and their anxiety,” said Dr. Michelle Lane, associate professor and principal investigator. “Everyone looks at how what the mom does affects the baby, but no one looks at how what a mom eats affects her.”

The Food, Feelings, and Family team also includes Dr. Sylvia Crixell, a professor of nutrition; three graduate students; and three undergraduates. The study — which is also in Spanish— is being conducted online and in person. The research team is seeking participants nationwide. Participants will receive $70 in Amazon gift cards, a bib and eligibility for additional gift cards. 

Participants must be 18 to 35 years of age, in their third trimester with one baby and must not play “brain games” on the computer. Lane explains that people who play brain games are excluded from the study because some of the tests in her study are identical to those in common brain training games, like Lumosity. Specifically, “women who play those games would score unusually high on our tests, skewing our results,” said Lane.

“Our goal is for 100 participants,” Lane said. “We're looking at the risk for postpartum depression. People think about suicide as a big outcome and it certainly is, but really one of the outcomes is that it's going to affect the whole family. It affects how the mom bonds with her infant. It not only affects her, but it affects her infant and that can lead to long-term issues for that child and the whole family.”

Researchers are also looking at BPA (bisphenol A) in the diet. BPA is an industrial chemical that is used to make some plastics and resins used in food packaging and household goods. Crixell says a mother might have an amazing diet, but if there is too much BPA she could also be depressed.

 “My goal of all of this is to lay the foundation to establish as clearly as we can, how what a woman eats during that third trimester of gestation predicts how she behaves after she has the baby. Then we see how it affects her interactions with that baby and the outcomes for the child moving forward,” Lane said. 

Those who are interested in joining the study can text (512) 670-8405, or visit the website:

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922