Document Detail

Breastfeeding, retinoids, and postpartum depression: A new theory.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23816449     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Postpartum depression (PPD) is an international public health problem affecting at least 1 in 8 mothers. Known risk factors include: giving birth to a preterm or low birth weight infant, babies with greater symptoms of illness at age 4-6 weeks, formula feeding, younger maternal age, smoking, and fatigue. Prolonged breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of PPD but the mechanisms are not well understood. Interventions for PPD focusing on psychosocial risk factors have been largely unsuccessful, suggesting that the condition has a mainly biological basis. The hypothesis proposed for consideration is that breastfeeding protects against PPD by maintaining endogenous retinoids (vitamin A-related compounds) below a threshold concentration. In fact, breast milk is rich in retinoids; pregnant women accumulate retinoids in liver and breast in preparation for lactation; there is increasing evidence that retinoids in higher concentration are associated with cognitive disturbances and mood disorders, including depression and suicide; and prolonged lactation reduces maternal stores of retinoids. Consistent with this hypothesis, it is estimated that an amount of vitamin A is transferred from mother to infant during the first six months of exclusive breastfeeding equivalent to 76% of a dose known to cause acute vitamin A poisoning in an adult. Breastfeeding may thus have evolutionary-adaptive functions for both mother and infant, transferring vital nutrients to an infant unable to feed itself, yet at the same time providing a natural means of reducing potentially toxic concentrations of retinoids in the mother.
Anthony R Mawson; Wang Xueyuan
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2013-6-28
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of affective disorders     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1573-2517     ISO Abbreviation:  J Affect Disord     Publication Date:  2013 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-7-2     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7906073     Medline TA:  J Affect Disord     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Behavioral and Environmental Health, School of Health Sciences, College of Public Service, Jackson State University, 350 West Woodrow Wilson Drive, Room 229, Jackson, MS 39213, USA. Electronic address:
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