Why shall we choose the best fish oil for pregnancy? Do we really have any evidence from clinical study that proved the benefits from the fish oil?
We learned plenty of ADs from television, website or other commercial channels that told us the fish oil is important for normal development and functioning of the brain and retina in the fetus and in infants. As a result, we thought that pregnant or nursing women may benefit from fish oil (omega 3) supplements.
Some clinical studies, with double blind, placebo controlled had shown some convincible evidences as below:
2010 to 2014
A study held in Australia, pregnant women were taken 800 mg of DHA and along with 100 mg of EPA per day until birth (from 1,500 mg of fish oil in capsules). Compared to women given placebo (vegetable oil capsules), there was no statistically significant increase in cognitive or language development in offspring during early childhood, nor when the children were evaluated again at four years old.
But this study also found that fewer of the treated women had postpartum depression (9.67%) than those who received placebo (11.19%), but this was not statistically significant. However, there was a significant decrease in very premature births (1.09% in the treated group vs. 2.25% in the placebo group) as well as fewer low birth weight infants and fewer admissions to neonatal intensive care units. There were also fewer fetal/infant deaths among those taking fish oil, although not by a statistically significant margin. At the same time, more of the treated women were induced or had cesarean sections because they were post term. Babies born to treated women in the study were nearly 40% less likely to have eg allergies in their first year of life in comparison to babies of untreated women.
The women taken fish oil supplement were also less likely to have eczema, although this association did not hold after the results were adjusted for factors such as maternal history of allergies.
Infants born to women in Mexico given 400 mg DHA per day, which were from algal oil, Martek Biosicences, during pregnancy (starting at about 20 weeks) had a lower occurrence of colds during the first three month of life than those whose mothers received placebo treatment (37% vs. 44%), respectively). However, median daily intake of DHA among pregnant women in Mexico is much lower than in the U.S. (80 mg vs. 100 to 200 mg, respectively), so the findings may not apply to groups already consuming higher amounts of DHA.
A related editorial recommended that pregnant women should get 200 mg of DHA per day either from a supplement or low-mercury fish and that the benefit of higher intakes remains unclear.
So from above evidences we believe that DHA, either it comes from fish oil or from plant base, algal oil, may help pregnant women for her health or her offspring. DHA also added to formula for premature infants and some regular infant formulas and foods. However, the benefits of such supplements are not entirely clear; we may know more if receive more reports from further studies.
If you plan to have a baby, please read this to find the best fish oil for pregnancy.