Fertility and pregnancy * Mental wellbeing

Seafood 'may reduce depression during pregnancy'

sardines and other fish are rich in omega 3 Depression linked to low omega-3 intake

Eating seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the symptoms of depression in pregnant women, new research has found.

Although common in western countries, depression during pregnancy appears to be almost absent in countries where a lot of seafood is consumed.

So scientists from the University of Bristol decided to investigate if the amount of seafood eaten during pregnancy was linked to depression.

The researchers questioned over 9,500 women who were 32 weeks into their pregnancy during 1991-2. All women filled in questionnaires which included questions on diet and symptoms of depression.

Researchers looked at 1991/2 because omega-3 was at that time mainly obtained from fish. It is today available in enriched foods like eggs and sunflower seeds, among others.

The scientists used the information collected to calculate the amount of omega-3 fatty acid in the women's diets.

The research found that pregnant women who ate no seafood were 50% more likely to experience symptoms of depression when compared with those who ate 1.5mg of omega-3 from seafood each week. This is about the equivalent of three portions of seafood a week.

The scientists said that more research into seafood consumption and depression was needed, especially as pregnant women are currently advised to limit the amount of seafood they eat due to possible contamination with pollutants.

More information

FSA guidelines on seafood and pregnancy

This article was published on Mon 3 August 2009

Image © Tomo Jesenicnik - Fotolia.com

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