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No Evidence That Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefit Women With Perinatal Depression

November 11, 2010: 09:21 AM EST

A team of Dutch researchers has found no evidence among seven randomized clinical trials that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, either DHA or EPA, relieved symptoms of depression common among women during pregnancy or after delivery. The researchers acknowledged that the studies they analyzed were fairly low quality, mainly because of small sample sizes and failure to follow standards for reporting trials. Nevertheless, the researchers compared 309 women on omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to 303 women on placebo treatment. They concluded that omega-3 supplementation was not significantly more effective than a placebo in treating perinatal depression, but did seem effective among a subgroup of women with severe depression. “Future research should focus on women who are clinically depressed (or at risk),” the authors concluded, and “the quality of research … needs to improve.”

Linda A. W. Jans, Erik J. Giltayand A. J. Willem Van der Does, "The efficacy of n-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA (fish oil) for perinatal depression", British Journal of Nutrition, November 11, 2010, © The authors
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