Omegsa-3s are one of the most studied nutrients on earth. Fortunately, this continuous research allows us to learn more and more about the potential health benefits related to this nutrient.
Lately, there have been several studies on omega-3s impacts on pregnancy. These studies have had a strong focus on the health and development of the baby, as well as the mother's health, which is just as important.
Research suggests that getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy can be beneficial for various areas, for instance they could play a crucial part in children's sleeping habits, IQ level, and may reduce the risk of preterm birth.
Omega-3s Support the Health of Mothers and Babies
Even though many are aware of the importance of omega-3s there may be additional questions about the importance of this nutrient during pregnancy. Specifically, evidence shows that omega-3s are necessary when pregnant because of its crucial role in the development of a baby's brain, eyes and the nervous system.
Omega-3 fatty acids are just as important after birth, supporting brain development and the immune system, as well as supporting healthy postpartum mood and well-being for moms.
“The majority of research finds omega-3 to be important for the baby's growth and development”
Omega-3s Impacts on Brain Health
Two scientists from the Ocean Research Institute have over the last ten years investigated the connection between the fatty acid DHA and brain development in children. In a recent study conducted by these two scientists there were 32 pregnant women whom had their level of omega-3 fatty acid DHA in the blood measured when they were 28 weeks pregnant. The scientists could see a clear pattern between the mothers' omega-3 status and the children's ability to solve problems.
“OUR BRAINS ARE 60% FAT AND AROUND 20% SHOULD BE MADE OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS”
Researcher Maria Wik Markus explains that the same effect could be seen by the child's level of fatty acid when they are three months old. The researchers then looked at how the children one year after birth solved various cognitive tasks. Interestingly, they found that the more omega-3 the mother consumed while being pregnant, the better the child around the age of one scored in cognitive tests.
Omega-3s Impacts on Sleep
A study in journal Scientific Reports had other interesting findings. This study focused on children who consumed fish and how this affected their sleeping condition and mental act. According to the researchers it was actually found that the children who ate more fish had better sleep quality and cognition.
Omega-3s Impacts on PreTerm Birth
A recent study suggests that low concentrations of EPA and DHA appear to be a strong risk factor for preterm birth. The study was conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in cooperation with Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. The results show that women with low plasma levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in their first and second trimester were at a significantly higher risk of early preterm birth when compared with women who had higher levels of these fatty acids.
In an article by Nutra Ingredients, Harry B. Rice PhD, Vice President of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs for Global Organization EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), stated that research has repeatedly demonstrated the benefits of EPA and DHA omega-3 supplementation for pregnant women, being especially important to reduce the chance of early preterm birth.
You can also check interesting pregnancy tips articles on Tiny Tribes.
A Need for More Awareness on Omega-3s
Even though many people are aware of the importance of omega-3, as found in a recent study from 2017 published in Nutrients, findings show that people still do not get enough omega-3s in their diets in comparison to the recommendation.
It's clear that everything which is essential to the development of the baby's body and brain depends on what comes from the mother. It's especially important for a pregnant woman to consume enough long-chain omega-3 fatty acids through diet or supplementation. However, a survey from 2008 showed alarming results where a large number of American parents are actually not aware of the crucial role of omega-3 DHA in the development of children, like their brains and eyes. Even though many people are aware of the importance of omega-3s, it's clear that they aren't thinking about it's benefits to pregnancy.
Continuous research is proving that omega-3s can have a positive health effects pregnant mothers and their babies. It's time to spread the word!
- Liu, J., Cui, Y., Li, L., Wu, L., Hanlon, A., Pinto-Martin, J., ... & Hibbeln, J. R. (2017). The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption–cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study. Scientific reports, 7(1), 17961.
- Stark, K. D., Van Elswyk, M. E., Higgins, M. R., Weatherford, C. A., & Salem, N. (2016). Global survey of the omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in the blood stream of healthy adults. Progress in lipid research,63, 132-152.
- Nordgren, T. M., Lyden, E., Anderson-Berry, A., & Hanson, C. (2017). Omega-3 fatty acid intake of pregnant women and women of childbearing age in the United States: potential for deficiency?. Nutrients, 9(3), 197.
- Braarud, H. C., Markhus, M. W., Skotheim, S., Stormark, K. M., Frøyland, L., Graff, I. E., & Kjellevold, M. (2018). Maternal DHA Status during Pregnancy Has a Positive Impact on Infant Problem Solving: A Norwegian Prospective Observation Study. Nutrients, 10(5).
- Olsen, S. F., Halldorsson, T. I., Thorne-Lyman, A. L., Strøm, M., Gørtz, S., Granstrøm, C., ... & Cohen, A. S. (2018). Plasma Concentrations of Long Chain N-3 Fatty Acids in Early and Mid-Pregnancy and Risk of Early Preterm Birth. EBioMedicine.