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Postnatal depression: a bad case of the blues

MagazineDecember 2010 (Vol. 21 Issue 9)Postnatal depression: a bad case of the blues

New evidence now suggests that a simple supplement could be the key to preventing postnatal depression (PND), a devastating condition that affects 10 to 15 per cent of women after having a baby

New evidence now suggests that a simple supplement could be the key to preventing postnatal depression (PND), a devastating condition that affects 10 to 15 per cent of women after having a baby.

Selenium-a trace mineral found naturally in foods such as Brazil nuts and fish-has previously been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, infertility and a range of other conditions. Now, researchers have found that taking 100 mcg/day of selenium during pregnancy can effectively ward off PND.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (considered the 'gold standard' for scientific evaluation), 166 women, pregnant for the first time and in their first trimester of pregnancy, took either selenium or a dummy pill every day until delivery. After delivery, the women were monitored for symptoms of PND over a period of eight weeks, using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

The researchers found that the women who had supplemented with selenium had significantly higher levels of the nutrient in their blood by the time they gave birth. More important, their ratings of depress-ion were significantly lower com-pared with the controls.

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