Fish Oil for Moms May Benefit Babies
Fish Oil Supplements During Pregnancy Improved Babies’ Hand-Eye Coordination in Australian Study
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 21, 2006 -- Mothers who take fish oil supplements during pregnancy may improve
their baby's hand-eye coordination and boost brain development.
A new study shows babies born to women who took fish oil supplements rich in
omega-3 fatty acids during the last half of pregnancy had better hand-eye
coordination as toddlers than babies born to women who took olive oil
supplements containing other types of omega fatty acids.
Researchers say the type of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are
essential for normal brain and vision development, but few studies have looked
at the safety or potential benefits of supplementing pregnant women’s diets
with fish oil.
"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," write researcher J. A. Dunstan, of the University of Western
Australia, and colleagues in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Study on Fish Oil Supplements During Pregnancy
In the study, 98 healthy pregnant women were divided into two groups and
given either 4 grams of fish oil supplements or 4 grams of olive oil
supplements daily from the 20th week of their pregnancy until delivery.
Once their children were 2 1/2-years-old, the researchers tested the
toddlers' language, hand-eye coordination, and other skills.
The results showed children of mothers who took fish oil supplements scored
significantly higher on tests of hand-eye coordination than those who took
olive oil supplements, even after taking other factors, such as the mother’s
age and duration of breastfeeding, into
The researchers also found that high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in cord
blood samples taken at birth were strongly associated with good hand-eye
There were no significant differences in overall language skills and growth
between the two groups.
The researchers say concerns about mercury content in certain types of fish
have made pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplements increasingly popular among
This study's results suggest taking the supplements during the second half
of pregnancy does not have negative effects and may, in fact, have beneficial
effects on babies’ neurological development that merit further study.