Large Study Confirms That Omega 3s Produce Healthy Babies
August 11th, 2011
By: Jonathan Benson
Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is crucial for the development and maintenance of the brain and nervous system, especially in young children. And a new study published in the journal Pediatrics adds to this, having found that pregnant women who supplement with Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) during their pregnancies produce children that are much healthier and less prone to sickness than those born to women who do not supplement with, or otherwise consume enough, DHA.
Dr. Usha Ramakrishnan, associate professor at Emory University’s Hubert Department of Global Health, and her team conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial on 1,100 pregnant women and 900 infants from Mexico. Some women received 400 milligrams (mg) of DHA, while others received a placebo, during the 18 to 22 weeks of gestation through childbirth.
After all the women eventually gave birth, children born to mothers in the DHA group experienced less overall sickness, and shorter duration of sickness. Some of the results are as follows:
-At one month of age, babies from the DHA group were 25 percent less likely to catch a cold or have a cough with phlegm or wheezing.
-At three months of age, babies from the DHA group experienced 14 percent less illness time than those from the placebo group.
-And at six months, DHA babies had less fevers, nasal secretions, breathing problems, and rashes than babies from the control group.
“This is a large scale, robust study that underscores the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy,” remarked Ramakrishnan. “Our findings indicate that pregnant women taking 400 mg of DHA are more likely to deliver healthier infants.”
The form of DHA used in the study was derived from algae, which is not necessarily an ideal form. In some cases, companies are actually using genetically-modified (GM) algae to create omega-3 oils. Monsanto is even working on gaining FDA approval for a GM soybean that artificially produces omega-3s, which is why it is important to know the source of your omega-3s before consuming them.
DHA, as well as the entire gamut of omega-3s that includes arachidonic acid (ARA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), can be found in natural foods like grass-fed meats, salmon, flax, and hemp. They can also be found from high-quality fish and cod liver oils, as well as salmon oil.