EB: Omega-3 Fatty Acid Reduces Postpartum Depression

Intake of docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy may decrease postpartum depression symptoms

WEDNESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Consumption of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during pregnancy may decrease postpartum depression (PPD) symptomatology, according to a study presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting, held from April 9 to 13 in Washington, D.C.

Michelle Price Judge, M.D., from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and colleagues investigated whether maternal DHA supplementation in pregnancy reduced PPD symptoms. They randomly assigned 52 women to take either placebo (corn oil capsule) or DHA (300 mg DHA, fish oil capsule) for five days a week between 24 and 40 weeks of pregnancy. Using the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS), they assessed PPD symptoms postpartum at two and six weeks as well as three and six months. They compared group differences in total PDSS scores using the Proc Mixed procedure.

The investigators found a significant group difference for the total PDSS score. Across all time points, DHA intervention was consistently associated with a six-point lower mean depression score compared to the controls. The DHA intervention group had a significantly higher red blood cell DHA (weight percent) than the placebo group (3.64 versus 2.70 percent).

"These results offer a basis for guidelines for DHA consumption by pregnant women and for community-based efforts to increase awareness of the value of DHA/fish consumption for maternal mental health," the authors write.

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