Often Deficient in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The researchers found that the women who ate lots of meat and little fish were deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and their babies didn’t do as well on eye tests as babies from mothers who weren’t deficient. The results were noticeable as early as two months of age. The study is ongoing as the researchers intend to follow the children’s development until four years of age.

For the study, the researchers recruited 135 pregnant women and randomly assigned them to either a group that took an omega-3 fatty acid supplement or one that took a placebo. All the women continued eating their regular diets. The supplement added the equivalent of two fatty fish meals per week, an amount that the researchers estimated would prevent deficiency. The researchers tested the women’s blood samples at 16 and 36 weeks of pregnancy and measured the amount of DHA (docasohexaenoic acid), a type of omega-3 fatty acids that’s known to be important for brain and eye function.

After the babies were born, the researchers did vision tests to evaluate the infants’ ability to distinguish lines of different widths. It’s an innovative way of evaluating neurological maturity in babies who are unable to talk. Since the eyes are connected to the brain, they reflect the brain’s development.

The aim of this study was to contribute to a growing body of knowledge that focuses on the dietary needs of pregnant and breastfeeding women. More research is needed to identify recommended daily amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. “For better health, it’s important for pregnant and nursing mums – and all of us – to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, eggs, and fish while minimizing consumption of processed and prepared foods,” says Dr. Innis.

MEDICA.de; Source: Child & Family Research Institute