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Omega-3 significantly improved depressive symptoms in perinatal women regardless of pregnant or postpartum

Abstract

Omega-3 fatty acids (FA), as a nutrient, has been proven effective in major depressive disorder (MDD), however, the results of monotherapy in perinatal depression (PND) remain unclear. To examine the efficacy and safety of omega-3 fatty acids (FA) monotherapy for perinatal depression (PND) compared with placebo. PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL were searched from inception up to November 2019. The reference lists of relevant review articles and included studies were also reviewed. Randomized placebo-controlled trials examining the efficacy and safety of omega-3 FA monotherapy in perinatal women with depressive symptoms were included. Pooled standard mean differences (SMD) were calculated and random-effects models were adopted for all analyses. Subgroups analyses and meta-regression were performed to quantify characteristics of the subjects and trials influencing the omega-3 response. In addition, meta-regression was conducted to identify the source of heterogeneity. The study protocol was registered at PROSPERO, CRD42020159542. Eight eligible randomized placebo-controlled trials were included involving 638 participants. There was a significant effect of omega-3 FA on perinatal depression. Omega-3 with higher ratio of EPA/DHA (≥1.5) had significant efficacy both in mild-to-moderate pregnant and postpartum depression with low incidence of side effects. Among the included trials reporting adverse effects, there was no significant difference in incidence of gastrointestinal and neurologic events between the omega-3 and placebo groups. There was no evidence of publication bias. Our findings suggested that omega-3 FA significantly improved depressive symptoms in perinatal women regardless of pregnant or postpartum and well-tolerated. Furthermore, the omega-3 response was linked to higher EPA proportion in omega-3 formula and mild- to-moderate depression.