Study Shows Omega-3s May Lessen Postpartum Depression

A new study from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing indicates that omega-3 fatty acids may be able to reduce postpartum depression in women.

Michelle Price Judge led the study, which included 52 pregnant women as subjects. Each woman was assigned to use a placebo made from corn oil or a pill containing 300 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil. The 300 milligrams of DHA is close to the same amount that a person would receive from eating a half serving of salmon.

The women took the pills for five days per week from the 24th week to the 40th week of their pregnancy.
Researchers regularly tested the women for their levels of postpartum depression symptoms.

Women who received the DHA pills showed fewer signs of postpartum depression compared to women who took the corn oil placebo. The DHA women reported that they felt less anxious and worried as well.

Critics say that the study was too small to be considered conclusive proof. Some fish also contain high levels of mercury in addition to omega-3s and should not be consumed by pregnant women.

The study will be presented at the 2011 Experimental Biology conference in Washington, D.C.

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