Epidemiological Studies on Omega-3 polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Depressive Symptoms in Pregnant Women and Young Generation

Dr. Kei Hamazaki, Dr. Akiko Harauma, Toru Moriguchi, Hidekuni Inadera




According to a recent survey, fish consumption is dropping in Japan, especially among younger generations. Here, we present the findings of our observational studies on the association between fish consumption and depressive symptoms in Japanese undergraduate students (Study I), and on serum omega-3 PUFA levels and psychological distress in early pregnancy (Study II) and mid-late pregnancy (Study III).


(Study I) A total of 4,190 completed questionnaires and the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale was used to measure depressive symptoms with a cut-off score of 16. (Study II and III) The data and specimen samples analyzed were from an adjunct study of the Japan Environment and Children’s Study. Subjects in the psychological distress group were those with a Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6) score of 13 or more (74 pairs for study II and 71 pairs for study III).


(Study I) Multivariate logistic analysis showed that fish intake was inversely associated with risk of depressive symptoms. (Study II and III) EPA, but not DHA, was inversely associated with risk of psychological distress in Study II. None of the omega-3 PUFAs showed an association with risk of psychological distress in Study III.


Frequent fish consumption in young generation seems to mitigate depressive symptoms and, peripheral omega-3 PUFA levels might be involved in the risk of psychological distress in the early period but not in the mid-late period. Further research is warranted to clarify our finding.