Omega-3 Supplements in Pregnancy: Are We Too Late to Identify the Possible Benefits?
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OBJECTIVE: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common and recurring illness. Most women who experience PPD do not seek professional help; for those who do, the available treatment options are not supported by extensive research evidence. Several lines of research have linked omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3) supplementation with a reduced risk of PPD. Although it has been suggested that women in the perinatal period consume sufficient omega-3 to potentially prevent PPD, there is a lack of definitive research evidence. This pilot study surveyed pregnant women's current use of omega-3, multivitamin, and other supplements, as well as their attitudes toward omega-3 research during pregnancy, to assess the feasibility of pregnant women's participation in a large randomized controlled trial evaluating omega-3 supplementation. METHODS: Women attending prenatal clinics over a three-week period were invited to participate in a survey. The survey contained an information letter that was followed by a brief questionnaire assessing the use of nutritional supplements and opinions regarding the likelihood of participating in a clinical trial during pregnancy. RESULTS: Of the 176 women who completed the survey, six women were in the first trimester of pregnancy, 82 were in the second trimester, and 87 were in the third trimester. One hundred fifty-nine respondents (90.3%) reported taking a multivitamin supplement but none were taking a supplement that contained omega-3; only 20 (11.4%) were taking omega-3. Seventy-eight women (44.4%) responded that they would participate in a clinical study evaluating the effects of fish oil on their health. CONCLUSION: The results of our study indicate that many pregnant women take prenatal multivitamins and nutritional supplements, that there are currently few pregnant women attending clinics at our hospitals who are supplementing with omega-3, and that pregnant women would be willing to participate in a clinical trial evaluating the effects of omega-3.
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