Differences between Japan and Taiwan in the treatment of pregnant women with depressive symptoms by omega-3 fatty acids: An open-label pilot study

Daisuke Nishi, Kuan Pin Su, Kentaro Usuda, Jane Pei Chen Chang, Yi Ju Jill Chiang, Tai Wei Guu, Kei Hamazaki, Naoki Nakaya, Toshimasa Sone, Kenji Hashimoto, Tomohito Hamazaki, Yutaka J. Matsuoka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Although safe approaches for improving depression in pregnancy are required and the efficacy of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has been suggested, the amount of supplemental omega-3 PUFAs has varied among previous studies and adequate amount might be different among countries. The aim of this pilot study is to explore the feasibility of using 1800 mg of omega-3 PUFAs supplementation for our future double-blind, placebo-control trial, and to clarify the clinical difference and the similarity between two sites of Japan and Taiwan. Methods: Pregnant women between 12 and 24 weeks’ gestation with depressive symptoms were recruited. Participants were supplemented daily with omega-3 PUFAs capsules containing 1206 mg eicosapentaenoic acid and 609 mg docosahexaenoic acid for 12 weeks. The primary outcome was change in total score on the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD) at 12 weeks after supplementation. Results: Eight pregnant women in Japan and five in Taiwan participated in the study. A substantial proportion of pregnant women reported high consumption of omega-3 supplements and dietary fish were excluded in Taiwan rather than in Japan sites. The decrease in HAMD score from baseline to 12 weeks after the start of the intervention was significantly larger in Japanese participants than in Taiwanese participants (Wilcoxon rank sum test; P = 0.045). Discussion: The improvement of depressive symptoms was smaller at the Taiwan site than at the Japan site. Differences in psychopathology of recruited participants identified by self-rating scales might affect the degree of population heterogeneity and the treatment efficacy. A randomized-controlled trial is needed to confirm these findings. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01948596.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalNutritional Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 2


  • Clinical trial
  • Cultural difference
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Nutritional psychiatry
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Pregnant women
  • Prevention


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