WASHINGTON/PRNewswire/ — Pregnant women and their children benefit significantly from increased fish consumption, according to a new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The ecological study showed that seafood consumption and the Omega-3 fatty acid content of mothers’ milk could predict the likelihood of postpartum depression across countries.

The study found an inverse relationship between fish consumption and postpartum depression in 23 countries, as demonstrated by a sample of the data in the following table:

                                    Lbs. Fish Consumed   % of Women Reporting
                                          / Year         Postpartum Depression
    South Africa                            8.6                  24.5%
    United States                           48.1                 11.1%
    Singapore                               81.1                 0.5%

The research report (published in the October 2001 Journal of Affective Disorders) analyzed 14,532 subjects and found that higher Omega-3 fatty acid content in mothers’ milk and higher seafood consumption were both associated with lower rates of postpartum depression. Researchers also discovered that the breast milk of women who eat a lot of fish contains high levels of this valuable fatty acid, known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Fish and seafood are also excellent dietary sources of DHA. High-levels of DHA reduce the risk of heart disease and are essential to develop a normal nervous system in infants. Fatty acids and fish oil also play a beneficial role in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and can ease the pain of arthritis.

Furthermore, health and nutrition associations have cited other benefits of fish consumption. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat “at least two servings of fish per week” for its heart-health benefits.

U.S. Tuna Foundation National Director Randi Thomas explains, “this new study adds to the long list of startling health benefits scientists believe Omega-3s fatty acids provide to pregnant women and small children. The most convenient, economical source of Omega-3s for moms and kids is, quite simply, canned tuna!”

U.S. Tuna Foundation is the national organization representing the processors and marketers of canned tuna.

SOURCE: U.S. Tuna Foundation