Omega-3 Research Confirms New Benefits In Pregnancy

We have been promotion omega3 consumption and the lowering of stress for pregnant women for a long time. Previous discussions included prevention of baby blues and lowering of depression with the post-partum use of omega-3 supplements. Now there is a way to both prevent stress and give your baby all the benefits of omega-3 consumption at the same time as a new study shows that women who report high-stress situations may benefit from supplements of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), according to a randomized controlled trial published online November 5 and in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The ultimate reason for the benefit may in fact be the biological reduction of the stress hormone cortisol output may improve the uterine environment for the developing fetus. Kate Keenan, PhD, professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Illinois, and colleagues. The investigators measured participants' stress levels through self-report on questionnaires and through saliva sample tests both at the start of the study and at 24 and 30 weeks of pregnancy. The saliva tests measured the women's cortisol levels before and after they took the Trier Social Stress Test, which measures stress levels. The women on DHA had much less stress on these exams, and a physiologic benefit to less cortisol as well. 
It is the hope that reducing the stress levels for moms will translate into better development for the baby and less behavioral problems after birth such as less crying and fewer learning problems as they grow up. Omega-3 levels can help brain and eye development and has been linked to the reduction of preterm birth as well. At Women's Health Practice we can measure omega-3 in pregnancy by blood testing. DHA, one omega-3, can be gotten from fish and fish oil as well as supplements. You can get some, but not all, of your omega-3 from eating fish as Mercury concerns have led to restrictions. 

The data was reviewed on Medscape and they note the research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine. Nordic Naturals provided the nutritional supplement and placebo. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Obstet Gynecol. Published online November 5, 2014. Abstract


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