Research: BROWNE and co-authors,

Listed in Issue 137


BROWNE and co-authors, Psychology Department, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand, have shown that n-3 fatty acids are not associated with postnatal depression.


Research to date suggests a relationship between fish consumption, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and depression. However, interpretation of this research is difficult due to methodological limitations. Women who have just given birth provide an excellent opportunity to examine these relationships because n-3s are transferred from mother to foetus during pregnancy and from mother to child after birth through breast milk. Hence new mothers are more likely to be depleted in n-3s. The aim of this study was to determine whether prenatal fish consumption and n-3 status after birth were associated with postnatal depression.


80 first-time mothers were recruited; 41 who scored on or over the cut-off on one of two depression-screening instruments, and 39 in the control group. Depression was diagnosed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Fish consumption was measured during pregnancy, and depression and n-3 status were determined postnatally. Logistic regression and t-tests were used to examine relationships between fish consumption, n-3 status, and postnatal depression.


Prenatal fish consumption was not predictive of postnatal depression, and postnatal n-3 status was not associated with postnatal depression. However, prenatal fish consumption did predict n-3 status after birth.


There was no association between postnatal depression and either fish consumption in early pregnancy, or n-3 status after birth.


Browne JC, Scott KM, Silvers KM. Fish consumption in pregnancy and omega-3 status after birth are not associated with postnatal depression. Journal of Affective Disorders 90 (2-3): 131-139, Feb 2006.

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