Omega-3 linked to postpartum depression

Nov. 16, 2012 at 10:36 PM

MONTREAL, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- New mothers with low levels of omega-3 may be at higher risk of postpartum depression, Canadian researchers suggest.

Gabriel Shapiro of the University of Montreal and the Research Centre at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child Hospital and colleagues conducted a review of the research and found women were at the highest risk of depression during their childbearing years and the birth of a child might trigger a depressive episode in vulnerable women.

Postpartum depression was associated with diminished maternal health as well as developmental and health problems for her child, the review found.

"The literature shows that there could be a link between pregnancy, omega-3 and the chemical reaction that enables serotonin, a mood regulator, to be released into our brains," Shapiro said in a statement. "Many women could bring their omega-3 intake to recommended levels."

Omega-3 is transferred from the mother to her fetus and later to her breastfeeding infant, so maternal omega-3 levels decrease during pregnancy and remain lowered for at least six-weeks following the birth, Shapiro.

"These findings suggest that new screening strategies and prevention practices might be useful," Shapiro said.

The findings were published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

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