If you knew there was something you could take while pregnant that would likely give your newborn a shot at not suffering from colds during the first six months of life, would you take it?
If your answer is yes, then run, don’t walk to the pharmacy and buy some fish oil supplements.
New research published in the September issue of Pediatrics suggests that women who take the omega 3 fatty acid DHA during pregnancy have babies who experience fewer cold symptoms and shorter related illnesses.
The good thing is that if you weren’t already aware of the benefits of omega 3′s, chances are it might already in your prenatal vitamin since they are considered essential for neural and retinal development during pregnancy.
While experts are stopping short of recommending routine use of DHA supplements during pregnancy since the findings were less than dramatic, the supplements appear to be safe nonetheless. DHA can also be obtained by eating fish like salmon, although mercury contamination in ingesting too much fish (and certain kinds of it) can also be a concern.
In the study, babies were assessed at 1-, 3- and 6-months old. Babies of moms who had taken DHA experienced a 24 percent drop in instances of cold symptoms compared to babies of moms who were given placebos. The babies in the former group also experienced cold-related illnesses of a shorter duration.
“The data suggested that for most of the symptoms we looked at, duration of symptoms was less when mothers received DHA. And, in the case of colds, the probability of a cold was slightly less. The effects seemed to be strongest early on after birth,” said study senior author Usha Ramakrishnan, an associate professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta.
In addition to pregnant women, women who are thinking about becoming pregnant should “start prenatal vitamins and DHA supplements about three months before pregnancy . . . If you’re not taking them ahead of time, you may miss out on proper nutrition,” according to Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
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