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Fish Oil Supplements Do Not Reduce Postpartum Depression, Study Finds

October 20, 2010: 06:59 AM EST

A randomized clinical trial involving 2,399 Australian women found that dietary fish oil supplements containing the omega-3 fatty acid DHA did not decrease levels of postpartum depression in mothers or boost cognitive and language development in their children. The findings conflict with earlier research and recommendations that fish oil supplements in pregnant women offer possible health benefits. Women in the trial received DHA-rich fish oil capsules (providing 800 mg/d of DHA) or similar-size vegetable oil capsules without DHA from study beginning to birth. Researchers measured levels of depression and found that the percentage of women reporting high levels of depressive symptoms during the first six months postpartum did not differ between the DHA and control groups (9.67 percent vs. 11.19 percent).

Maria Makrides, Robert A. Gibson, et al., "Effect of DHA Supplementation During Pregnancy on Maternal Depression and Neurodevelopment of Young Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial", Journal of the American Medical Association, October 20, 2010, © American Medical Association
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