A recent study published in Pediatrics links omega 3 fatty acids to
infant health. According to the study but researchers at Emory
University, DHA and other sources of omega 3 fatty acids, lessen the
risk of infant illness.
In a study that included 1,100 women and 900 infants, women receiving 400 mg of DHA from about 18 weeks gestation until the end of the pregnancy gave birth to healthier infants. Colds and other illnesses were reported to researchers at one month, three months and six months of age. Not only did infants get sick less often, they also recovered from illnesses faster than infants born to mothers without DHA supplementation.
This is not the first study revealing the importance of omega 3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy. In a previous study, researchers found a connection between fatty acids and birth weight. Infants weighed about 100 grams more when mothers took 400 mg of DHA during pregnancy. By 18 months, the heavier children were also three-quarters of an inch taller than peers.
Researchers are just starting to make a strong connection between maternal diet and health and the effect on infant and child health. Some studies have linked maternal habits to long-term negative health outcome for children well into adulthood.
Omega 3 fatty acids are important for cardiovascular health. Typically, the average diet supports a ratio of 4 to 1 (omega 3 fatty acids to omega 6 fatty acids.) The ideal ratio is 10 to 10. Supplementing with DHA and other sources of omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in addition to protecting infants from illness early in life.
Source: Pediatrics. Emory University. September 2011.