Assessing Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy and Lactation to Optimize Maternal Mental Health and Childhood Cognitive Development

Chelsea M Klemens; Kataneh Salari; Ellen L Mozurkewich


Clin Lipidology. 2012;7(1):93-109. 

In This Article

Epidemiology of Depression in Pregnancy & Postpartum & Dietary Contributors

Postpartum depression occurs in approximately 10–20% of childbearing women and can be associated with significant morbidity.[40] A significant proportion of women (5–10%) will also experience a major depressive episode during pregnancy.[40] While the etiology of perinatal depression is quite complex and most likely multifactorial, an area of recent interest is the role of nutrition in depression.[5] Plausible links between nutrition and mood have been previously reported for several vitamins, nutrients and more recently PUFAs.[17] Without an adequate nutritional supply of omega-3 fatty acid rich foods, mothers can experience lower levels of these fatty acids during pregnancy.[17]

Some observational studies have reported slower recovery rates of maternal DHA status in women with postpartum depression compared to nondepressed control subjects.[4] In a crossnational ecological study including 23 countries, both lower rates of seafood intake and lower concentrations of DHA in breast milk predicted higher prevalence rates of postpartum depression.[41] Similarly, Golding et al. reported high levels of depressive symptoms in mothers with lower intake of omega-3, with as much as a 50% increased risk of depression in mothers who ate no seafood compared to those who consumed a substantial amount of seafood.[42]


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