Study Shows Less Seafood Equals More Depression in Pregnant Women

Researchers say American women are much more likely to suffer depression during and after pregnancy than women in Japan, the coast of China or countries in the Mediterranean. Those researchers believe they know why there's such a big disparity. Bill Stamps has the answer.
Women in Japan, China and northern Europe eat more seafood than Americans. They also suffer less depression during and after pregnancies. Is there a correlation?

Researches studied thousands of American women to find out. The answer was yes.

"What they showed was women who never ate seafood were much more depressed than women who did and if you basically ate 3 or more seafood meals a week, depression was really not a problem. And that's actually similar to other countries including Japan and Northern Europe where depression is much less common during pregnancy."

Doctor Jamie McGregor is with the USC school of Medicine. He's part of a nationwide group that studies issues related to pregnancy. He says the depression is real and affects all types of women — even Hollywood stars.

"Your listeners might remember Brook Shields how she went public a few years ago about to emphasize these points that we've been talking about and actually Tom Cruise went in the media and actually sort of counteracted her by saying she should pull up her boot straps and get on with life, but depression is really a physical thing and it needs to be seen and cared for."

He says seafood is like brain food for both the baby and the mom. Previous studies have shown that women who ate seafood had babies with higher IQs. Conversely those who didn't eat seafood had babies with lower IQs.

"The idea is that the mother and the baby really don't connect if the mother is depressed or has some other mental illness."


Doctor McGregor says the depression can be treated with medications and psychotherapy, but all that can be avoided by eating a little less chicken or beef and more fish. Bill Stamps KUHF-Houson Public Radio News.