The First 1000 Days – Does my baby need more omega-3?
Is fish oil good or bad during pregnancy?
During your pregnancy, you may ask yourself “Is fish oil good or bad for pregnancy?”. Well, even though fish has been a staple food in all cultures since the beginning of written history, the question of whether omega-3 fish oil is safe during pregnancy requires research
Research on omega-3 fatty acid supplements
Thankfully, such research exists, and the conclusions drawn are unsurprisingly that omega-3 fatty acid supplements for pregnancy have been linked to improved well-being and vitality.
Recent studies have uncovered promising conclusions about the effects of omega-3 fish oils such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) on infant immunity and brain health. So, when you ask yourself “Is fish oil safe during pregnancy?”, consider the following information:
Omega-3 fatty acids for decreasing allergies
In the first of the studies to be discussed , pregnant mums with a high risk of delivering a baby with allergic disease were provided with supplements of DHA and EPA from the 25th week of their pregnancy, through to nearly 4 months post-partum. Furuhjelm and colleagues  determined that the children of the supplemented group of pregnant women displayed a lowered amount of allergic disease incidences within the first 24 months of their life (~50% lower than the group that did not receive DHA or EPA supplementation).
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements for brain health
Conversely, a study by Campoy and colleagues  investigated the effects of DHA and EPA (as well as folic acid) on cognitive development at the age of 6.5 years. Pregnant mothers were provided with DHA and EPA supplements from the 20th week of their pregnancy and until their baby was born. At 6.5 years of age, the children of the mothers who received DHA and EPA were linked to improved mental processing scores!
Safety of fish oil and omega-3 benefits
The question of “does my baby need DHA or EPA supplements?” may now hence be easier to answer, as the above studies have shown that the levels of DHA and EPA in the blood of expectant mothers can significantly influence the life of their children, both within the first 1000 days and beyond.
However, while taking a DHA or EPA supplement during pregnancy may be beneficial, it is still strongly recommended that any supplement used during gestation be approved by the relevant health authorities, and by a family doctor or dietician. This way, you can be confident that you are consuming the best fish oil during pregnancy, as well as the appropriate fish oil dosage during pregnancy.
- Furuhjelm, C., et al. Pediatr Allergy Immunol, 2011. 22(5): p. 505-14.
- Campoy, C., et al. Am J Clin Nutr, 2011.