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Omega-3s during pregnancy may boost infant brain and vision

Monday October 15, 2018 at 10:29am
Omega-3s during pregnancy boost infant brain

By consuming omega-3's regularly during pregnancy women could boost their baby's brain function and eyesight say researchers from Finland.

The study, published in the journal Pediatric Research supports previous research that shows that importance of diet and lifestyle during pregnancy with regard to infant development. 

Kirsi Laitinen, study author, explains:

"The results of our study suggest that frequent fish consumption by pregnant women is of benefit for their unborn child's development. This may be attributable to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids within fish, but also due to other nutrients like vitamin D and E, which are also important for development."

Mother's diet is the main way that valuable fatty acids become available to the fetus

Laitinen goes on further to suggest that a mother's diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding is the main way that valuable long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids become available to the fetus and to the baby during it's first year of life when it is experiencing the period of maximum brain growth.

The fatty acids help to shape the nerve cells that are relevant to eyesight and are also important in forming the synapses that are critical in transporting messages between neurons in the nervous system.

The study included 56 mothers and their children, whom kept a regular food diary during the course of their pregnancy. Changes in weight before and after pregnancy were taken into account, as well as blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and whether they smoked or developed diabetes.

Levels of nutritional long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid sources were recorded in addition to measures of blood serum and the levels in the blood of their children by the age of one month. The children's vision was also tested around their second birthday.

The results showed that infants whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better than those whose mothers ate no fish or only a couple of portions a week.

Laitinen believes that the results of their study should be incorporated into counselling given to pregnant women about their diets and concluded by saying:

"Our study therefore highlights the potential importance of subtle changes in the diet of healthy women with compromised pregnancies, beyond prematurity or nutritional deficiencies, in regulating infantile neurodevelopment." 

 

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