Benefits of prenatal fish oil for pregnant women
A recent study found that there is a positive link between fish oil supplements and babies' immune systems. It claim that pregnant women who do take these supplements have babies who are less likely to catch a cold or end up being ill for shorter periods of time.
Take prenatal fish oil during pregnancy and your baby will be less prone to colds during the first few months of their lives. This is what an American study claims.
Done by researchers in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, it discovered that women who ingest prenatal fish oil supplements during pregnancy might boost their babies’ immune systems.
These supplements need to contain DHA or omega-3 fatty acid which are widely known for their health benefits that includes reducing the risks for heart disease and stroke.
Now as this study show the link between fish oil and babies immune system, it translates into lesser likelihood of the babies being sick.
The study’s lead author, Usha Ramakrishnan, is quick to say that DHA is no cure for the common cold. Still, she added, popping the supplements might pay off.
“Our findings are suggestive of a possible benefit,” said Ramakrishnan, an associate professor in the Atlanta school’s Department of Global Health whose study was published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
The research team followed 851 Mexican women from the second trimester of pregnancy, through the babies’ births, and until the infants were six months old.
About half of the women were given 400 milligrams of DHA each day starting in the second trimester. The rest of the women were given placebos.
The new moms were interviewed at intervals of one, three and six months after the babies were born. Each time, the women were asked whether the babies had experienced various respiratory symptoms, such as cough, phlegm, nasal congestion and wheezing in the previous 15 days. They were also asked if whether their infants had caught a cold during that time.
As a result, the inquiries found that at the one month mark, babies whose mothers took DHA experienced shorter periods of respiratory symptoms when they got sick.
As for the immune-boosting effect, Ramakrishnan points to earlier research showing that the function of a host of different kinds of cells can be improved by omega-3 fatty acids.
However, only time will tell how well the results will hold up. Earlier research suggested that DHA supplements might boost cognitive development in babies, but a large study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no such impact.
Dr. Samuel Parry, chief of the division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, is waiting for more research before he starts recommending the supplement to his patients.
No harm trying
“We don’t think DHA causes harm in pregnancy,” he said. “But we’re skeptical that it really helps prevent colds in babies.”
Parry, a member of the Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health, also urged pregnant women to be careful when choosing any nutritional supplements.
In Singapore, a variety of fish oil supplements are available on retail in the pharmacies such as Guardian or nutrition stores like Nature’s Farm. However according to nutritionist Sarah Schenker not all fish oil supplements are safe for pregnant women. In an article, she writes, “There are two types of fish oil supplement. One is safe to take in pregnancy, and one isn’t…cod liver oil also contains high levels of the retinol form of vitamin A. You shouldn’t take supplements containing the retinol form of vitamin A when you’re pregnant, because large amounts of retinol can harm your baby.”
The general rule of thumb for all pregnant mummies is to ensure that you consult your ob-gyn before you go ahead and purchase some. Also make sure that the fish oil you are purchasing is meant for prenatal use.
In the meantime, mummies, share with us your recommended supplementary intake. We want to know which ones work well for you.