Depressive Symptoms in Early Pregnancy

Some women develop depressive symptoms during or after childbirth, but it is unclear why some women do and others do not. A history of depression and difficult socioeconomic conditions increase the risk of developing depression, but other factors, including nutrition may contribute as well. Several studies have examined whether a woman’s omega-3 status is associated with the odds of developing perinatal depressive symptoms. There is good reason to think that having too little of the long-chain omega-3s (DHA and EPA) found in fish and algae may contribute to the risk. These fatty acids are necessary components of the brain and contribute to its structure and function. Low DHA and EPA status may be associated with a higher risk of depression unrelated to pregnancy.

Unless a woman takes fish oil or DHA/EPA supplements, she is likely to have low concentrations of this fatty acid in her blood and tissues.

To explore the latest scientific research on this topic, visit the Facts of Life Newsletter.

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