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High fish, omega-3 consumption may ward off postpartum depression

18 Dec 2020

Women consuming high amounts of fish and/or n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are at lower risk of developing postpartum depression and serious mental illness, a study has found.

The analysis involved 103,062 pregnancies obtained in the Japan Environment and Children's Study. Compared with those who reported low fish intake, women with higher fish intake tended to be older, multiparous, a nonsmoker, and have a higher level of education and higher annual household income.

In total, 84,181 and 81,924 women were evaluated at 6 months and 1 year after delivery, respectively. During follow-up, 11.6 percent of women had postpartum depression (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale [EPDS] ≥9) at 6 months after delivery and 2.6 percent had serious mental illness (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale [K6] ≥13) at 1 year after delivery.

Multivariable logistic regression revealed that the risk of postpartum depression at 6 months was low in the second to fifth quintiles relative to the lowest quintile of intake for both fish (Q2: odds ratio [OR], 0.90; Q3: OR, 0.85; Q4: OR, 0.85; Q5: OR, 0.84; p<0.0001) and n-3 PUFAs (Q2: OR, 0.88; Q3: OR, 0.82; Q4: OR, 0.76; Q5: OR, 0.84; p<0.0001).

Similar associations were observed regarding the risk of serious mental illness at 1 year after delivery. The corresponding ORs associated with second to fifth intake quartiles were 0.85, 0.65, 0.72, and 0.73 for fish (p<0.0001), and 0.90, 0.82, 0.77, and 0.85 for n-3 PUFAs (p=0.004).

The present data show that fish and omega-3 intake may play a valuable role in the prevention of postpartum depression and serious mental illness up to a year after delivery.

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