Supplement trio could lower 'baby blues' risk in new mums

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Despite the prevalnce of PPD there are no widespread prevention strategies, and no nutraceutical interventions have been developed.©iStock/janzwolinski
Despite the prevalnce of PPD there are no widespread prevention strategies, and no nutraceutical interventions have been developed.©iStock/janzwolinski

Related tags: Dietary supplement

A dietary supplement kit created to tackle mood changes associated with depression could help prevent the ‘baby blues’ encountered by some new mothers, say researchers.

Women took the nutrition-based approach, consisting of tryptophan and tyrosine, as well as a blueberry extract, soon after giving birth.

Findings revealed women who did not take the supplements had a significant increase in depression scores.

In contrast, women taking the dietary supplements did not experience any depressive episode.

“Developing successful nutrition-based treatments, based on neurobiology, is rare in psychiatry,”​ said Dr Jeffrey Meyer, head of the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

“We believe our approach also represents a promising new avenue for creating other new dietary supplements for medicinal use.” 

Baby watch

pregnancy maternal women mother baby iStock vadimguzhva
The dietary supplement was designed to compensate for a temporary rise in a brain protein, monoamine oxidase A, which occurs on postpartum day 5. ©iStock/vadimguzhva

In the study, 21 women received the supplements while a group of 20 mothers in comparison did not.

Supplements were taken over three days, starting on the third day after giving birth.

Tests to assess the kit’s effect on mood were carried out on day five after giving birth, the period in which the baby blues are said to peak.

“This dietary supplement designed to counter functions of elevated MAO-A activity eliminates vulnerability to depressed mood during the peak of Postpartum blues,” ​the study detailed.

Postpartum ‘baby blues’ (PPB) is often a precursor for the more serious postpartum depression (PPD) with severe PPB very much linked with a higher risk for PPD.

Dr Meyer said that the findings were a platform to further assess the nutrient’s ability to reduce both the postpartum blues and postpartum depression. 

He added that the supplement kit could also become an important part of a dietary supplement regimen that could one day be widely used to prevent postpartum depression.

Source: PNAS
Published online ahead of print: doi: 10.1073/pnas.1611965114
“Selective dietary supplementation in early postpartum is associated with high resilience against depressed mood.”
Authors: Yekta Dowlati, Arun V. Ravindran, Zindel Segald, Donna Stewart, Meir Steiner and Jeffrey Meyer

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