Role of Fish Oil during Pregnancy
Perinatal Supplementation with Fish Oil
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid also known a Fish Oil. It is essential for the neural, visual and cognitive development of the growing fetus. Pregnant women should take an amount equal to or greater than 200 mg/day of DHA.
Omega-3 fatty acids
The human brain is composed of 60% lipids (by dry weight) of which 20% are DHA and arachidonic acid (AA). These two fatty acids represent the core fatty acids found in the gray matter of the brain. They are the basic components of neuronal membranes which modulate membrane fluidity and volume, influencing receptor and enzyme activity. Essential fatty acids are also precursors for active mediators that play a key role in inflammation and immune reactions. They promote neuronal and dendritic spine growth and synaptic membrane synthesis, and hence influence signal processing and neural transmission.
Higher maternal fish consumption was associated with higher language and social skills assessed at 15 months of life in children from a British Study. Furthermore, lower maternal seafood consumption was linked to suboptimal behavior at age 7, and to lower levels of social, fine motor, and language development.
Although high fish oil supplementation during pregnancy may result in higher erythrocyte concentration, research in the Project Viva demonstrated that higher maternal fish intake was still positively associated with improved language scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT).