Most new moms work hard to give their babies the best possible start in life, beginning as soon as they realize they are pregnant.
While experts offer a wide range of recommendations for a healthy pregnancy, a new study suggests that a simple supplement might be an ideal way to help ensure that babies are healthy , not only before birth but also during their earliest years of life.
Birth weight gets a boost
According to a study from the University of Kansas, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA – a key component of our Xtend-Life Omega-3/DHA fish oil supplements – may help boost infants’ birth weight and help prevent premature births, both key factors in the health of newborns.
While DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is found naturally in the membranes of our cells, infants obtain the DHA they need from their mother, both in utero and through breast milk after birth. But if mom isn’t getting enough DHA, neither is her baby. And that can have a big impact on that little one’s health.
According to the study, babies born to mothers who had been given 600 milligrams per day of DHA during their pregnancies – compared to moms given a placebo - not only weighted more at birth, they were also less likely to be born before the critical 34-week gestational period.
The results were exciting for researchers, since improved infant health can reduce health care costs for both families and health care providers.
Fewer cases of premature births and babies with low birth weight had "clear health significance", according to Susan Carlson, a professor of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Carlson headed the study along with co-worker John Colombo, a professor of psychology and director of the Life Span Institute.
A brain boost
This research echoes a 2004 study that showed the brain-boosting benefits of DHA during the first few months of a baby’s life.
During a baby’s first two years, the brain develops at a rapid pace. It can develop by as much as 175 percent in the first year.
To promote that growth, many experts recommend moms continue to supplement with Omega-3 fish oil to ensure enough DHA is present in breast milk for babies to reap the benefits, potentially including an improved attention span, less chance of developing the commonly-diagnosed attention deficit disorder, and a higher level of intelligence.
Women in the U.S. tend to consume less fish and nuts than women in countries where a Omega 3 rich diet is followed, experts say, so a DHA supplement can make a big difference.
That's especially important because if there is not enough DHA to supply what the baby needs, it may be taken from mom's body, which various studies have suggested contributes to postpartum depression.
Our Xtend-Life Omega 3/DHA Fish Oil supplement provides a high level of DHA, and contains hoki fish oil sourced from the Southern Ocean off the coast of New Zealand.
This study reinforces the importance of maintaining a healthy intake of Omega-3 rich fish in your diet.