Pregnancy and Omega-3. What you need to know for your baby.

Pregnancy and Omega-3. What you need to know for your baby.

Pregnancy and Omega-3What You Need to Know For Your Baby

Pregnancy and Omega-3. Fish vs. fear of contaminants in fish. What a trying topic for pregnant Moms who want to eat the best foods possible for their baby''s development. While it may seem quite a challenge to sift through information, great research has come forward to help.

Several new research findings point specifically to the benefits to pregnancy and Omega-3 far outweighing contamination concerns. To give a background of the role DHA and EPA play in development, Dr. Joseph Hibblen, National Institutes of Health, world''s foremost authority on Omega-3 EPA and DHA research, says:

"DHA and EPA are the two types of Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils. They''re performed so the body doesn''t have to do anything with them but take them in. DHA is selectively concentrated in the brain and in synaptic neuronal membranes. If neurons do not have adequate amounts of DHA available, they do not sprout new branches and they do not make new synapses. They have an absolute requirement for DHA for those processes to occur optimally.

"It''s critical for the baby''s developing brain to have the right amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients at the right time. You get one chance to lay down the highways of the brain and lay down the nervous system and nervous track. You need to lay it down the right way at the right time. You don''t want to be pregnant and have a child who''s in a state of nutritional deficiency. It appears to have long-lasting repercussions both for behavior, in terms of aggression, and ADHA and in terms of intelligence."

Read what''s new from Norway Medical.

In the landmark Lancet study, startling and relevant research made it clear more consumption of Omega-3 and benefits during pregnancy far outweighed the risk of eating more fish:

"Maternal seafood consumption of less than 340 g per week in pregnancy did not protect children from adverse outcomes; rather, we recorded beneficial effects on child development with maternal seafood intakes of more than 340 g per week, suggesting that advice to limit seafood consumption could actually be detrimental. These results show that risks from the loss of nutrients were greater than the risks of harm from exposure to trace contaminants in 340 g seafood eaten weekly."

Dr. Hibbeln, further clarifying in the Lancet study, wrote:

"We have found that when women had low levels of seafood consumption, the outcome is exactly the opposite of what was assumed by the United States Advisory. Unfortunately, the advice appears to have had the unintended consequence of causing harm in a specific developmental domain - verbal development - where protection was originally intended.

"We recorded no evidence to lend support to the warnings of the U.S. advisory that pregnant women should limit their seafood consumption. In contrast, we noted that children of mothers who ate small amounts, 340 grams per week, of seafood were more likely to have suboptimum neurodevelopmental outcomes than children of mothers who ate more seafood than the recommended amounts."

Read the findings in the 2007 issue of the Lancet.

The Feburary 17, 2007 issue of Newsweek magazine featured an interview with Dr. Hibbeln regarding his

When asked what about taking Omega-3 supplements instead of eating actual fish, Dr. Hibbeln replied "This study looks only at seafood. Now there is separate data from other studies that have fairly consistently and uniformly showed benefits when pregnant women take supplements."

Another very recent and compelling study conducted by Dr. Susan L. Prescott from the University of Western Australia and associates assessed the effects of prenatal omega-3 LC PUFA on cognitive development in 72 children whose mothers received either high-dose fish oil or olive oil (the comparison or "control" group) during pregnancy.

Children showed significantly higher eye and hand coordination in the fish oil group while growth measurements at 2.5 years old did not differ. In summary the researchers noted:

"These preliminary data indicate that supplementation with a relatively high-dose fish oil during the last 20 weeks of pregnancy is not only safe but also seems to have potential beneficial effects that need to be explored further," the authors conclude.

Read about fish oil supplements during pregnancy.

While pregnancy and Omega-3 DHA go hand-in-hand, not so for flaxseed oil says the Mayo Clinic. "The use of flaxseed or flaxseed oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not recommended. Animal studies show possible harmful effects, and there is little information in humans. Flaxseed may stimulate menstruation or have other hormonal effects and could be harmful to pregnancy."

Read the latest from the Mayo Clinic

All the research notwithstanding, pregnant Moms who still feel concerned with contamination of ocean fish or those who never acquired a taste for fish are well-advised to supplement with a pure Omega-3 EPA and DHA fish oil during pregnancy. Undeniably, the benefits to the child''s brain and motor development skills are clearly established.

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