Omega-6 fatty acids and greater likelihood of suicide risk and major depression in early pregnancy

J Affect Disord. 2014 Jan:152-154:76-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2013.04.045. Epub 2013 May 31.


Objective: To estimate the prevalence of suicide risk (SR) and major depressive episodes (MDEs) in early pregnancy, as well as the relationship of serum fatty acid status to these outcomes.

Methods: Cross-sectional analyses were performed on data from 234 pregnant women enrolled in a prospective cohort study in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. SR and MDE were defined according to the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Fatty acid compositions were determined for serum samples obtained between the 6th and 13th gestational week. Fatty acid data were expressed as the percent of total fatty acids, converted to Z scores and then entered as continuous variables in logistic regression models.

Results: The prevalence of SR was 19.6% and that of MDE was 17.0%. In the adjusted logistic regressions, a higher likelihood of SR was observed among women with higher arachidonic acid levels [AA (20:4, n-6): OR=1.45, 95%CI 1.02-2.07] and adrenic acid levels [AdA (22:4, n-6): OR=1.43, 95%CI 1.01-2.04]. A higher likelihood of MDE was also observed among women with higher AA levels [OR=1.47, 95%CI 1.03-2.10] and AdA levels [OR=1.59, 95%CI 1.09-2.32].

Conclusion: Higher serum levels of AA and AdA were associated with a greater likelihood of SR and MDE among pregnant Brazilian women.

Keywords: Arachidonic acid; Major depressive disorder; Omega-6 fatty acids; Pregnancy; Suicide risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arachidonic Acid / blood
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / blood*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / etiology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Logistic Models
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • adrenic acid
  • Arachidonic Acid