At my very first prenatal visit, my doctor went through the laundry list of the foods that were officially off limits. I tearfully waved goodbye to lunchmeat, unpasteurized cheese, alcohol and smoked meats. However, at the end of her food talk, she also gave me some foods I should try to include in my pregnancy diet and one of them was fish.
Not all fish are great during pregnancy, in fact, there are several you should actively avoid because of high Mercury levels, however, there are some that have long been reported to have health benefits, and a new study gives us more reason.
Fish oil is not something that sounds all that appetizing to me, but the Omega 3 fatty acids that comprise it, are an absolute jackpot of good stuff for you and your baby. Many prenatal vitamins now contain fish oil as well as supplemental DHA, which comes from these same oils and makes up the membranes of cells in the brain and are great for the development of baby’s eyes and brain.
Basically, we already know that fish oil is good. But now we know that its impact is greater than just brain and eye development.
The study, conducted in Europe and submitted to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, measured the amount of DHA in pregnant women’s blood at 20 weeks gestation and also in umbilical cord blood at delivery, to see how much fish intake impacted DHA blood quantities. They then looked to expand on earlier research to determine whether higher blood levels of DHA, as the result of increased fish intake, resulted in improved test scores or function in the babies born to these mothers. I know. Medical study mumbo-jumbo, but the results are the good stuff.
What they found was pretty significant. Women who consumed more fish during pregnancy, and who therefore had higher blood levels of DHA, had infants who had higher scores for verbal intelligence and fine motor skills, as well as better social skills. These results were found to be statically significant, and while the study won’t conclude until next year, they seem to have made a pretty good argument for fish.
I don’t know about you, but it seems like if DHA is going to be such a great asset to my child, I may need to be a little better at following my doctor’s orders.
And so tonight, we’ll be having salmon. Mmmm DHA.