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Fish oil may lower postnatal depression
Wed, 13 Apr 2011 09:24:10 GMT
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Consuming foods or supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy may lower the risk of developing symptoms of postpartum (after childbirth) depression.

Postpartum depression is moderate to severe depression in a woman after giving birth. The common symptoms of the condition, which affects about 25 percent of new mothers, are sleeping and eating disturbances, emotional problems, loss of self-esteem, anxiety, confusion, guilt, and suicidal thoughts.

During the new research, scientists at the University of Connecticut studied 52 pregnant women taking placebo pill or a fish oil capsule containing 300 milligrams of an omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for five days a week during the 24th to 40th weeks of pregnancy.

The amount of DHA contained in each capsule is the equivalent of about one-half serving of salmon.

After childbirths, the scientists continued following the cases for six month and found that women who had taken the omega-3 scored better on a questionnaire designed to spot symptoms of post-natal depression.

Although the number of studied individuals was not enough to determine whether consuming DHA resulted in a lower incidence of postpartum depression. But "DHA consumption during pregnancy at levels that are reasonably attained from foods has the potential to decrease symptoms of postpartum depression," the lead researcher, Dr. Michelle Price Judge reported at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

However, she suggested that while some women may prefer to take supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, eating fish is the more nutritious option.

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