The demands on a woman’s body during pregnancy often leave her feeling depleted, physically and emotionally. Depression is common among pregnant women. Concerns have been raised about possible harm from antidepressants which might affect both mother and child. Mothers-to-be and their health care providers often look for other choices than pharmaceuticals.
Researchers at China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan noted a possible reason why many women experience depression during pregnancy, reports Reuters Health. Depression is often associated with lower levels of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). “When a pregnant woman needs to be treated for major depression, the possible risks and benefits of antidepressant medication are considered to have significant impacts on both mother and baby,” Dr Su commented to Reuters Health.
Dr. Kuan-Pin Su and colleagues presented their findings in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Dr. Su supplemented subjects’ diets with 3.4 grams Omega-3 each day. Control subjects received an olive oil derived placebo. At 6 and 8 week follow up testing, the Omega-3 receiving women scored lower on depression measuring scales than the placebo group. These scores indicated less depression. Two thirds of the women consuming the PUFAs showed significant improvement, the study said, compared with 27 per cent of the control group. Many became free from depression altogether.
The best news came when researchers noted the absence of negative effects on either mothers or their newborn babies. A few mothers experienced minor stomach upset the first few days while their systems got used to the new substances.
Many pregnant women are deficient in a variety of nutrients, including Omega-3 PUFAs. In an effort to provide for the baby’s needs, a woman may lose 3 percent of her brain mass during the last trimester. This loss is thought to be responsible for postpartum depression. The diminished supply of Omega-3 PUFAs can have far-reaching effects on both mother and baby beyond perinatal and postpartum depression. Deficiencies in these PUFAs can lead to pre-eclampsia, prematurity, and low birth weight babies.
The American Chronicle reports that Omega-3s consumed during pregnancy are also beneficial for the baby. EPA and DHA, components of Omega-3 oils, make up nearly 70 percent of the developing baby’s brain, nervous system, and the retinal tissue of the eyes. Researchers found that infants born to mothers with higher blood levels of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at delivery had advanced levels of attention spans well into their second year of life. During the first six months of life, these infants were two months ahead of those babies whose mothers had lower DHA levels.
The article summarizes findings presented in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The need for these PUFAs, the article goes on to say, begins even before conception. Omega-3 oils are required to produce healthy and vigorous eggs and sperm.
According to The World’s Healthiest Foods Omega oils if you choose to use supplements: “remember that these oils are highly sensitive to damage from heat, light and oxygen. Choose a certified organic product properly packaged.”
After doing your own research about the benefits of omega 3 during pregnancy, we recommend you to have a look here.
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