Study Says Fish Oil During Pregnancy Is Good For Babies

August 1, 2011 by staff 

Study Says Fish Oil During Pregnancy Is Good For BabiesStudy Says Fish Oil During Pregnancy Is Good For Babies, Pregnant women who consume large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from supplements or from natural sources such as salmon can help strengthen the immune system of infants, a new study published in Pediatrics suggests.

Babies whose mothers took supplements containing docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, Aione the two main ingredients in fish oil, îhad fewer days with cold symptoms during the first six months of life than babies whose mothers received a placebo, the study.

Infants in the DHA group were also slightly less likely than a cold in the first place.

Although promising, the new findings are preliminary. And researchers say it is too soon for doctors to advise expectant mothers to take supplements of DHA as an essential part of their diet in pregnancy.

“Tell women to take a dose of 400 milligrams of DHA during pregnancy would be safe, [but] the amount of benefit is not that we do not know yet,” says Usha Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., lead author of study and associate professor of global health at the School of Emory University’s Rollins Public Health in Atlanta, Georgia.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory effects, have been touted as a natural way to combat a range of ailments, from heart disease to depression.

“Research suggests that the fatty acid composition of many of our cells, immune cells? Iparticularly, îaffect function,” says Ramakrishnan.

Previous research has suggested that DHA supplementation may improve respiratory health and overall immune function in infants and children, but this is only the second study to explore whether exposure to DHA in the womb may have similar effects.

Ramakrishnan and colleagues randomly assigned over 800 pregnant women in Mexico to receive 400 milligrams of DHA per day or a placebo. (The researchers used DHA supplements derived from algae instead of fish, as the flavor of fish oil have become more difficult to conceal the type of pill women were getting.) The women started taking pills during the second quarter and continued doing so until she gave birth.

Then, at three different points in the next six months, the researchers surveyed the mothers about whether their children had suffered cold symptoms such as cough, nasal congestion and fever in the last 15 days, îand if so, how long they lasted symptoms.

In all three time points, the duration of cold symptoms tend to be lower in children whose mothers took DHA supplements. And the mark of a month, babies DHA had a probability of less than 24 percent have had cold symptoms.

Ramakrishnan said that the results can probably be extrapolated to the U.S. Hispanic population and probably with other ethnic and racial groups, but more research is needed to confirm the results.

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