Higher Omega-3 During Pregnancy Equals Healthier Children
Two studies of mothers who supplement with omega-3 supplements show that benefits can be “profound!” This first study looks at the effect on body composition and the second study examines the effect of omega-3 on mental and visual function.
Mothers of 154 children in this study took 600 mg of the omega-3 DHA per day while pregnant, or a placebo. At age five, children whose mothers had taken DHA had an average of 1.3 pounds more fat-free body mass compared to children whose mothers were in the placebo group. The fat-free body mass benefit was the same regardless of the diets of the women or the children.
Discussing the findings, doctors said DHA levels can increase in the fetus when mothers supplement with DHA, and can increase in the infant from mothers' milk as she breast feeds. Doctors also said the finding that, nearly six years later, children's physical characteristics can benefit from mothers' supplementing with DHA is profound.
Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2018, Vol. 107, No. 1, 35-42
This second study focused on mental and visual function.
This was a large review of 38 clinical trials covered 5,541 mothers who took omega-3 supplements or a placebo while pregnant.
Overall, compared to children of mothers who had not taken omega-3s, pre-term and full-term children of mothers who supplemented with omega-3s had better visual acuity. Pre-term infants whose mothers had taken omega-3s also had better mental development than pre-term infants whose mothers had taken a placebo. The benefits were the same regardless of world region, race, mothers' education, the length of time taking omega-3 supplements, or the doses of DHA or EPA.
Discussing the results, doctors said the findings make up the most complete body of evidence of the potential benefits of mothers' omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the mental development of their children.
Reference: The Journal of Nutrition; 2018, Vol. 148, No. 3, 409-18