Fish Oil for Smart Babies
Women who take fish oil during pregnancy may give birth to children
with improved hand-eye coordination, language skills and behaviour, an
Australian study has suggested.
The positive effects of omega-3’s for cognitive development and
learning difficulties has been well documented, and this research adds
to the expanding list of benefits fish oil has for practically everyone.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia and the
Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth recruited 98
pregnant women from private obstetricians.
The study initially looked at the effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated
fatty acid, or omega-3 PUFA, which is contained in fish oil supplements
– on immune function, disease susceptibility, foetal growth and
To assess the effects of omega-3 PUFA, the pregnant women received
either high doses of fish oil or olive oil from 20 weeks gestation
two and a half years of age, 72 children born from the study group – 33
in the fish oil group and 39 in the control group were then assessed by
a clinical psychologist for growth, development, receptive language and
behaviour, according to Janet Dunstan of the School of Paediatrics and
Child Health at the University of WA.
Dr. Dunstan said the children in the fish oil group attained higher
scores in all measures of development, behaviour and language, and had
a significantly higher score for hand-eye coordination, compared with
children from the olive oil control group.
“Improved hand-eye coordination can help in terms of developing fine
motor skills that may enhance learning, for example being able to hold
and use a pen or pencil, and increase self-esteem,” Dr. Dunstan said.
“I think it’s well accepted that fish oil is an important part of
everyone’s diet and we know that during pregnancy the baby needs extra
amounts of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is present in omega-3 fish
The Spinal Centre’s Comment:
Long-chain omega-3 DHA is a building block for the brain’s tissue.
50% of the brain’s DHA is formed during the fetal stage; the remaining
50% accumulates in the first year or so after birth. Animal studies
have shown that reduced DHA levels can lead to dramatic changes in the
brain’s structure and function, including the basic senses of taste,
sight and hearing as well as memory and learning.
We can’t say it enough – omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for the health of yourself, your family and your baby.
During pregnancy, DHA is passed from mother to infant. Breast milk
contains some DHA, but the levels vary depending on the mother’s diet.
If you are DHA deficient, then there’s a high chance your baby is too.
There is rapid growth of the infant’s brain in the first 2 years of
life, so a ready supply of DHA is important.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for a range of roles in the body, including:
- Reduction of inflammation throughout the body
- Keeping blood from clotting excessively
- Maintaining fluidity of cell membranes
- Lowering the amount of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body
- Decreasing platelet aggression
- Preventing thickening of the arteries
- Reducing excessive inflammatory response
- Reducing the body’s risk of becoming obese, and improving the body’s ability to respond to insulin
- Helping to prevent cancer cell growth
Supplementation with fish oil has also proven an effective and safer
alternative to Ritalin and other stimulant drugs. Click here for more
Not only does fish oil help to reduce inflammation, protect against
heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease and improve cognitive
function, it also reduces bad cholesterol levels and improves the
body’s use of body fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids also play a key role in a range of vital body
processes, from regulating blood pressure and blood clotting to
reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. Realistically, we
should all be taking some sort of omega-3 supplement.
There are many fish oil supplements on the market, but as we highlighted in our ‘When Oils Ain’t Oils‘
article – not all of them are the same. Though the value packs from the
chemist may seem like great buys, they generally contain low levels of
EPA and DHA, and high levels of contaminants.
Investing in a good quality fish oil, like those found on The Spinal Centre’s
Best Fish Oils will ensure that you get contaminant-free, pure fish oil
and is both effective and reflux-free. Click here for more information.
Before you go diving into the deep end though, you should determine
exactly what amounts of omega-3 fatty acids your body needs. The Spinal Centre
Essential Fatty Acid Test is a revolutionary test that will identify
your exact EFA levels. We will create a personalised supplementation
schedule, and steer you in the right direction to improve your health.
If you or any members of your family suffer from any sort of heart
disease, inflammatory condition, learning difficulties or simply want
to know exactly what to take, then this is the test for you. Click here to find out more.
Combine this test with The Spinal Centre Consultation. The Spinal Centre Consultation
is a detailed, individual consultation that will empower you by
identifying which areas of your health need addressing. The report will
include a detailed, personalised supplementation plan to get you back
on the road to good health. Click here for more information.
What else can I do?
How often do you exercise? Honestly? We should all try to get a
least 30 minutes of exercise everyday. Sometimes our intentions are
good, but it’s following through with them that’s the issue. Not only
is exercise important for your heart health, it will also help to keep
your weight down, keep your blood pumping and help keep your baby healthy. Read ‘Stretching and Exercise’ for more information.
Is your diet a healthy one? Eating junk, high-fat and high-sodium
foods isn’t just bad for your heart health – when you’re pregnant it can be bad for your baby. Clean up your diet and feel a
whole lot better, and leaner, sooner. Read ‘Health Promoting Nutrition‘ for a great starting guide on healthy eating principles.
Want an easy, protein-rich snack? Try Bioceuticals IsoWhey Professional for a high-protein and high-quality shake that actually tastes good.
Take a pregnancy-specific multivitamin. Multivitamins like Bioceuticals InNatal and Eagle Pharmaceuticals Natal Plus
are specifically formulated to provide mummy and baby with the
necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients to support good health and
- Omega-3 Intake Linked to Younger Biological Aging
- Two Soft Drinks a Week Increases Cancer Risk by 87%
- Live Longer and Age Less by Exercising; Study Suggests
If you like this article be sure to visit the Spinal Centre website at www.thespinalcentre.com.au and view more content by Dr. Hooper and the Spinal Rehabilitation Team.
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