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Fish oil supplements in pregnancy beneficial for your baby?
Taking fish oil supplements in pregnancy is associated with a higher body mass index (BMI) in children in the first 6 years of life, which is explained by an increase in totally lean and bone mass at 6 years of age, but without an increase in fat mass, suggest the findings of a large randomized controlled trial published by ‘The BMJ’.
Animal studies have shown that supplementing the diet with fish oil during pregnancy affects adipogenesis (the development of fat cells). However, while human trials have shown that pregnant women with a higher intake of fish oil give birth to babies with higher birth weight, the impact on children later in life has not been clear.
So a team of researchers based in Denmark and the UK set out to examine the effect of taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy on children’s growth and body composition later in life.
The trial included 736 pregnant women from the ‘Copenhagen Prospective Study on Childhood Asthma’ who were randomized to receive daily long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids n-3 (AGPIC) (fish oil) or olive oil (control) daily from the 24th week of pregnancy to one week after birth.
General growth-stimulating effect
Height, weight, head and waist measurements were evaluated 11 times from birth to 6 years and adjusted for age and sex. These data revealed a continuous higher BMI from 1 year to 6 years of age.
Body composition was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) at 3.5 and 6 years of age and showed that the higher BMI was not the result of a higher percentage of fat, but rather reflected a proportional increase. in lean mass and fat mass, suggesting that supplementation with fish oil had a stimulating effect on overall growth.
At 6 years, DXA scans showed that children whose mothers took fish oil supplements during pregnancy had a total mass of 395 grams higher, 280.7 grams higher lean mass, 10.3 grams mineral content bone and 116.3g grams of fat mass higher than the children of mothers who took the control oil.
Conclusions of the importance of fish oil supplements
The researchers conclude: “Body composition at 6 years of age in children who received fish oil supplements was characterized by a proportional increase in lean, bone and fat mass, suggesting a stimulating effect on overall growth.”