Friday 5 May 2017

Research has shown that baby blues are unnecessary

Many brand-new mothers suffer from the baby blues. According to research published in the scientific journal PNAS, that isn’t necessary. Women who are given a specific supplementation kit have been found to experience almost no sad feelings after giving birth.


The baby blues appear to be inextricably linked to the postpartum period. What seems like a harmless phenomenon can, however, significantly increase the risk of developing postnatal depression. Research published in the PNAS has now revealed that this can be relatively easily prevented: with the right supplementation.


What was supplemented?

Forty-one women participated in the study. Of those 41 women, 21 received a supplementation kit and 20 women didn’t. The supplementation kit contained three supplements: L-tryptophan (2 grams), L-tyrosine (10 grams) and blueberry extract (Berberis vulgaris) dissolved in blueberry juice. The supplements were taken for three days, from the third day after the birth up to and including the fifth day, when the baby blues generally strike.


After the fifth day, the women were tested for psychological resilience to negative events. To that end, all women read texts focussing on pessimism, dissatisfaction and lethargy. They then listened to a sad piece of classical music. Depressive symptoms were measured both before and after this test.


Supplementation is worthwhile

Following the test, women who received no supplementation displayed a significant rise in depressive symptoms, but women who did receive supplementation were found not to be at all prone to the negativity evoked during the test situation.


The researchers said: “Generally, the baby blues last for up to days ten after the birth, but if the feeling is extremely intense, this can quadruple the risk of postnatal depression. We assume that, in the future, our supplementation regime can be used widely in the treatment of postnatal depression."


The doses of L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine that were given did not pass in the breast milk to the infant.


How it works

The supplements L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine were chosen because they inhibit overproduction of the brain protein MAO-A during the early postnatal phase. Research has revealed that overproduction of MAO-A plays a role in postnatal depression. But what happens to you if you produce too much MAO-A?


MAO-A breaks down serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, each one of them neurotransmitters that help to stabilise the mood. L-Tryptophan and L-tyrosine therefore indirectly ensure that the mood remains more stable. A deficiency of these substances can lead to miserable feelings, but therefore also ultimately to clinical depression. Berberis vulgaris has an antioxidative effect on the brain and clears up harmful free radicals.



Yekta Dowlati, Arun V. Ravindran, Zindel V. Segal, Donna E. Stewart, Meir Steiner, and Jeffrey H. Meyer, Selective dietary supplementation in early postpartum is associated with high resilience against depressed mood, PNAS 2017 , published ahead of print March 13, 2017.