Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

Dietary Patterns, n-3 Fatty Acids Intake from Seafood and High Levels of Anxiety Symptoms during Pregnancy: Findings from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

Vaz Jdos S, Kac G, Emmett P, Davis JM, Golding J, Hibbeln JR. (2013) PLOS One 2013 Jul; 8(7): e67671. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067671. Print 2013. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here. Free full text of this article is available online.



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


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


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 85th 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.


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.


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.


For summaries of these research findings and their implications, see the associated news articles: