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Fish Oil to Prevent Postpartum Depression

Taking fish oil supplements while pregnant may help reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression, which affects up to 25 percent of new mothers. We know that the babies of women who take fish oil supplements during pregnancy develop faster physically and mentally - possibly because the body shifts omega-3 fats from mother to baby in the last trimester of pregnancy. Without supplementation, this may leave mothers with a shortfall of this key nutrient. A small study from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing reported on April 12, suggests that taking 300 mg of fish oil five times a week from the 24th week of pregnancy to delivery seemed to help ward off symptoms of postpartum depression. A total of only 52 women were enrolled - half received the fish oil and half a placebo. Before the trial and on four occasions afterwards, the women completed questionnaires that rated their depressive symptoms. The moms who took the fish oil supplements scored six points lower (meaning less depression) than those who received the placebo. A larger study will be needed to confirm these results. In the meantime, for the sake of their own health, as well as that of their babies, pregnant women are advised to eat two to three servings a week of fish high in omega-3s or to take 200 mg of fish oil daily.

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