Increasing the levels of omega-3 fatty acids could help to battle postpartum depression, according to a new review.
The suggestions come after the new review – published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry – found that women who are at risk of depression during childbearing years could be at higher risk if omega-3 status is lowered.
Led by Gabriel Shapiro from the University of Montreal, Canada, the authors examined 75 studies investigating the risk factors for postpartum depression (PPD), finding that there is accumulating evidence that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake is associated with risk of PPD.
"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," explained Shapiro.
He noted that because omega-3 is transferred from the mother to her foetus and later to her breastfeeding infant, maternal omega-3 levels decrease during pregnancy, and remain lowered for at least six-weeks following the birth.
Without adequate intake to counter this, levels of omega-3 PUFAs will be significantly lowered in the mother, and could – according to the new review – result in a higher risk of PPD.
"Many women could bring their omega-3 intake to recommended levels," said Shapiro.
However, he added that the study findings were preliminary, and that further research would be needed to clarify the link and identify reasons for it.
Source: Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
Volume 57, Number 11, Pages 704-712, doi:
“Emerging Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression: Serotonin Transporter Genotype and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Status”
Authors: Gabriel D Shapiro, William D Fraser, Jean R Séguin,