Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Depression and metabolic disease are common disorders that share a bidirectional relationship and continue to increase in prevalence. Maternal diet and maternal behaviour both profoundly influence the developmental trajectory of offspring during the perinatal period. At an epidemiological level, both maternal depression and obesity during pregnancy have been shown to increase the risk of neuropsychiatric disease in the subsequent generation. Considerable progress has been made to understand the mechanisms by which maternal obesity disrupts the developing offspring gut–brain axis, priming offspring for the development of affective disorders. This review outlines such mechanisms in detail, including altered maternal care, the maternal microbiome, inflammation, breast milk composition, and maternal and placental metabolites. Subsequently, offspring may be prone to developing gut–brain interaction disorders with concomitant changes to brain energy metabolism, neurotransmission, and behaviour, alongside gut dysbiosis. The gut microbiome may act as a key modifiable, and therefore treatable, feature of the relationship between maternal obesity and the offspring brain function. Further studies examining the relationship between maternal nutrition, the maternal microbiome and metabolites, and offspring neurodevelopment are warranted to identify novel therapeutic targets.

Original publication




Journal article





Publication Date





455 - 455