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Fish, fatty acid may protect against postpartum depression

22 Oct 2019

Consuming high amounts of fish and/or n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is beneficial to women, as it reduces the risk of postpartum depression at 6 months following delivery, according to a recent study.

Researchers used data on 103,062 pregnancies from the Japan Environment and Children's Study and examined 84,181 and 81,924 women at 6 months and 1 year after delivery, respectively. In the 6-month cohort, women with higher vs lower fish intake were slightly older and were more likely to be multiparous, a nonsmoker, and have a higher level of education and higher annual household income.

During follow-up, 11.6 percent of women (9,761 of 84,181) had postpartum depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale 9) at 6 months after delivery and 2.6 percent (2,127 of 81,924) had serious mental illness (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale 13) at 1 year after delivery.

On multivariable logistic regression, the second to fifth intake quintiles for either fish or n-3 PUFA intake were associated with a reduced risk of postpartum depression at 6 months compared with the lowest quintile. The trend tests also revealed a significant linear association.

Moreover, there was a protective association observed with the risk of serious mental illness in the second to fifth vs the lowest quintile for fish intake and in the third to fifth quintiles vs the lowest quintile for n-3 PUFA intake. Trend tests similarly showed a significant linear association.

The present data provide stronger evidence for a negative association of fish and/or n-3 PUFA consumption with postpartum depression and serious mental illness at 6 months and at 1 year after delivery, respectively, according to the researchers. More studies, especially those interventional in nature, are needed to validate the findings.

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Natalia Reoutova, 07 May 2020

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