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Mothers should eat fishy diet to beat depression, say researchers

Encouraging women to eat diets rich in oily fish can help prevent post-natal depression problems, according to researchers in Canada.

A study has found that a lack of omega-3 fatty acid, of which oily fish is an abundant source, can contribute to the condition.

Scientists believe that a combination of certain genetic factors and a deficiency of the acid can lead to depression after childbirth, a problem 10% to 15% of mothers suffer from during the first year after birth.

Post natal or post-partum depression (PPD) causes mothers to be disengaged or, at worst, hostile to their children and they can develop mental health problems because of it.

It is more severe than the milder condition, popularly known as the “baby blues”, but not as serious as post-partum psychosis, which affects less than one in 500 mothers.

Dr Gabriel Shapiro led a team of scientists looking at links with the 5-HTT genetic variant and omega-3 in 75 previous PDD studies.

Dr Shapiro, of the University of Montreal, said there might be a connection between the fatty acid, pregnancy and the chemical reaction in the brain that produces the mood regulator serotonin.

Further research is needed to back-up the preliminary findings, but Dr Shapiro advised that many women would be wise to make sure they take recommended levels of foods containing omega-3.


Readers' comments (3)

  • I completely disagree with this research. During both my pregnancies I could not face meat and instead ate both oily and white fish, and continued to eat large quantities post pregnancy and still do! However I suffered severe post and antenatal depression both times. It seems to me that there is a lot of conflicting advice for pregnant women.

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  • Omega 3 fatty acids? Is there no way we can synthesize these instead of encouraging everyone to deplete fishing stocks further.
    Lots of conflicting research on Omega 3, is this the snake-oil of the 21st century?

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  • Research indicates that omega-3s may be better absorbed from food than supplements. Pregnant women must eat more fish that has more on omega-3 fatty acid in order to avoid Post natal or post-partum depression (PPD).

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