BACKGROUND: Little is known about relationships between dietary patterns, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) intake and excessive anxiety during pregnancy.

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether dietary patterns and n-3 PUFA intake from seafood are associated with high levels of anxiety during pregnancy.

DESIGN: Pregnant women enrolled from 1991-1992 in ALSPAC (n 9,530). Dietary patterns were established from a food frequency questionnaire using principal component analysis. Total intake of n-3 PUFA (grams/week) from seafood was also examined. Symptoms of anxiety were measured at 32 weeks of gestation with the Crown-Crisp Experiential Index; scores ≥9 corresponding to the 85(th) percentile was defined as high anxiety symptoms. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to estimate the OR and 95% CI, adjusted by socioeconomic and lifestyle variables.

RESULTS: Multivariate results showed that women in the highest tertile of the health-conscious (OR 0.77; 0.65-0.93) and the traditional (OR 0.84; 0.73-0.97) pattern scores were less likely to report high levels of anxiety symptoms. Women in the highest tertile of the vegetarian pattern score (OR 1.25; 1.08-1.44) were more likely to have high levels of anxiety, as well as those with no n-3 PUFA intake from seafood (OR 1.53; 1.25-1.87) when compared with those with intake of >1.5 grams/week.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study provides evidence of a relationship between dietary patterns, fish intake or n-3 PUFA intake from seafood and symptoms of anxiety in pregnancy, and suggests that dietary interventions could be used to reduce high anxiety symptoms during pregnancy.

PMID: 23874437

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