BENEFITS OF Omega-3 Fatty Acids During Pregnancy
Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Fetal-Pregnancy Health Educating TTC Couples to the Importance Omega-3s Doctors indicate that Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital nutritional contributor to enhanced pregnancy health. But unlike folic acid, which is today well-known for its pregnancy and preconception benefits in preventing common birth defects, the profound value of Omega-3 fatty acids is just now becoming clear in nutritional research - and to the public. Hence, very few TTC or pregnant women know much about Omega-3s - or get the Omega-3s they need as part of their pregnancy and nursing diet-regimen. The fact is, recent scientific literature suggests that Omega-3 fatty acids play a key part in pregnancy health - and in the healthy development of your baby. The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids are clear. To summarize recent research conclusions, Omega-3s... y y y y y y y

Offer critical nutrients for the neurological development of your baby. Promote the development of your baby's cardiac and respiratory systems. Support the development of your baby's brain and eyes (development of visual centers). Have been shown to increase the learning and cognitive function of your child, with effects measurable to age four. Increase the attention span of your child (a measurable component of intelligence early in life) . Support the pregnancy health of the mother, possibly reducing chances of toxemia (or pre-eclampsia). May help prevent pre-term labor and premature delivery.

What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids? Omega-3 fatty acids are key to human growth and development, but are not naturally synthesized by the body. This means that Omega-3s must be obtained from foods, particularly from seafood sources, oils (e.g., flaxseed oil), or dietary supplements. In technical terms, Omega-3s are "long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids" and are broken down into two fatty acid categories: DHA and EPA. Research indicates that EPA is important in promoting the development of prenatal and infant cardiac and circulatory systems. DHA, however, seems to receive more attention and accolades from the scientific community with regard to pregnancy health. DHA is key to the developing brain, accumulating in vast amounts during infant development an d during the first years of your baby's life. DHA is a central component of the nervous system and promotes neurological development, particularly with regard to the eyes and to fundamental cognitive function . Studies suggest that a baby born to a mother with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in her system will more likely have advanced cognitive faculties and an increased attention span (a fundamental non-verbal indicator of intelligence in very early childhood). These effects have been measured up to age four, suggesting that there are long-term benefits of Omega-3 fatty acid consumption during pregnancy and nursing. DHA benefits also include the support of retinal development and enhanced visual function. One study tested over seventy mothers and their babies from between 4 and 8 months of age. The study tested for visual acuity and visualcognitive learning ability by showing infants pictures and measuring reactions. Results indicated that babies born to mothers with elevated DHA levels had increase visual "skills" and faculties.

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Of course, health benefits of Omega-3s are not restricted to fetal and early-childhood development. For mothers and mothers-to-be, higher dietary intake of Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease the risk of pregnancy complications like toxemia (or pre-eclampsia) and reduce the odds of postpartum depression. Equally important, higher levels of Omega-3s may also decrease the chances of premature delivery (pre-tem labor). Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Pregnancy: Overcoming Nutrit ional Deficiency Large internal stores of Omega-3s, as well as a higher dietary intake of Omega-3s, contribute to fetal and pregnancy health - this much is clear. Omega-3s are stored by the body and brain of the mother, and the nutritional benefits of dietary Omega-3 fatty acids will be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy through the placenta. During pregnancy, however, if your diet does not contain sufficient Omega-3 fatty acids, your baby will begin to "draw" Omega-3s from your own internal stores in the brain. This can cause a long-term Omega-3 deficit (a deficit extending even to future pregnancies) if Omega-3s are not regularly consumed from external food and/or supplement sources. Unfortunately, in a "typical" North American diet, we receive inadequate amounts of these key fatty acids. Research indicates that this nutritional deficiency is traced to a decreased consumption of fish, seafoods, and other sources of Omega-3 fatty acids over the past decades. The good news, however, is that Omega-3 fatty acids can be easily replenished through simple dietary change or supplementation. Sources suggest that pregnant women should receive about 250 mg of DHA daily - though very few women actually do. Eating more seafood is one very simple solution, with one large caveat: increased pollution, contaminants, and mercury levels in many species of fish (particularly some types of tuna, swordfish, and larger predatory fish). For a pregnancy diet, the FDA has even suggested limits on how much and what kinds of fish a woman can safely consume on a weekly basis. Mercury, in particular, is a neural toxin which can hurt a baby's developing brain or cause birth defects. High levels of PCBs (or polychlorinated byphenols), which may be found in farmed salmon, have also been linked to birth defects. Raw or undercooked fish is, of course, a no-no for other reasons. The other good news is that, in addition to some types of safer seafoods (moderate amounts of salmon, pacific cod, and canned tuna), there are dietary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that do not contain pollutants or mercury. Indeed, newer dietary supplements offer purified (contaminant free) Omega-3s - some from seafood sources and some from flaxseed oil, etc. A supplement like Prenatal Pure Omega-3 is specifically designed for pregnancy, and is certified mercury-free. For nursing mothers, Prenatal Pure Omega-3 (or other pure sources of Omega-3s) are highly advised because fatty acid nutrients pass directly from mother to child via breast milk. In a way, Omega-3 fatty acids are like the new folic acid. It's common knowledge that trying-to-conceive and pregnant women should have a diet high in green, leafy vegetables or other sources of folic acid (including prenatal vitamins). With Omega-3s, its simply a matter of educating couples to the importance of this key nutrients when it comes time to having a baby. A diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids may become the new pregnancy-health watchword very soon.

Omega 3 Rich Foods and Pregnancy
We all know how important a good diet is in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. After all, your baby relies on you for the vitamins, nutrients, and calories he needs throughout his development. A good pregnancy diet is well-balanced and addresses you and your baby¶s specific needs. Omega 3 rich foods are particularly essential. Omega 3 foods can provide your baby with the energy and materials necessary to good physical and mental growth. Omega-3s are also important for your own health and well-being during pregnancy. What are Omega 3s? Omega 3s are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are found in various foods, including fish, game, seeds, and plants. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are one of four types of fats you¶re your body gets through your food. Though Omega 3s are called "fatty acids," they are actually very good for you and are a necessary component for both mental and physical health. Omega 3 fatty a cids

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are often referred to as essential fatty acids. This is because they cannot be produced by your own body, but instead need to be gotten through essential foods. Types of Omega 3s There are three main types of Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Your body can use all three of these Omega 3s to help perform di fferent functions.
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Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): EPA is found primarily in fish and fish oil. Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA): DHA is especially important to your body, and is also found primarily in fish. Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA): ALA is found mostly in seeds, vegetable oils, and leafy green vegetables. It is converted into EPA and th en into DHA in your body.

Omega 3 During Pregnancy

In the past decade or so, the importance of Omega 3 during pregnancy has been acknowledged. It is now known that Omega 3 actually plays a large role in the development and growth of your baby when it is in your uterus. Omega 3 helps to: y y y build the brain form the retinas develop the nervous system

Omega 3 is also necessary for your own pregnancy health and wellbeing. Omega 3 helps to: y y y reduce your chances of developing preeclampsia reduce your risk for postpartum depression minimize the chance of preterm labor.

Omega 3 Deficiency During Pregnancy Having an Omega 3 deficiency while you are pregnant can prove very harmful to you and your baby. Your baby takes Omega 3 from the foods that you eat. The nutrients cross the placenta, helping your baby to grow and develop. However, if your baby does n ot get enough Omega-3 from the food you eat, he will begin to take it from your own stores. Researchers believe that these stores may be located in the brain, which can result in a loss of up to 3% of your brain cells. Omega 3 deficiency during pregnancy is link ed with:
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increased rates of postpartum depression increased chances of having a low birth weight baby increased chances of preterm labor or cesarean birth

The Future Benefits of Omega 3 Taking Omega 3 during pregnancy has also been proven to help you and your baby out in the long run. Recent studies were performed on infants who were exposed to adequate levels of Omega 3 while in the womb. These babies showed advanced attention spans and greater visual acuity than non-exposed children. Their development was also two months ahead of non-exposed children. Other Omega 3 benefits include:

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less chance of developmental or behavioral problems later on less incidence of breast and prostate cancer

When To Take Omega 3s Your are probably wondering when is the best time to begin taking Omega 3 supplements or increase your natural intake o f the fatty acid. Omega 3 is actually something that you should be including in your diet on a regular basis. Even when you are not pregnant, you should aim to get a fair bit of Omega 3 into your body . During pregnancy, it is recommended that you get at least 250 mg of Omega 3 every day. However, Omega 3 oils are especially important during the final trimester. It is during this time that your baby uses Omega-3 to form approximately 70% of her brain system. She is also working on the rest of her nervous system. Good Omega 3 Sources Omega 3 is best found in fish and fish oil products. High levels of Omega 3 are found in:
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oily fish, like mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, salmon, a nd pilchards Omega 3 fish oil supplements fresh or frozen tuna

However, it is important to keep in mind that fish can be contaminated with mercury and PCBs, so make sure that you choose safe types of fish. Omega 3 can also be found in non-aquatic sources. Good choices include:
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fortified foods, like eggs, bread, and juice dark green vegetables canola, sunflower, and flaxseed oils walnuts

Pregnant? Omega-3 Essential for Baby's Brain
Advanced Attention Span in Babies Whose Mothers Eat More Essential Fats
By Salynn Boyles WebMD Health News

Research has suggested that increasing intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids may have a number of health benefits. And babies whose diets include an abundance of essential fats seem to have an edge in ter ms of early development. Now new research shows that the same is true for infants born to mothers whose diets contain plenty of this essential fatty acid. Researchers found that infants born to mothers with higher blood levels of the omega -3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at delivery had advanced levels of attention spans well into their second year of life. During the first six months of life, these infants were two months ahead of those babies whose mothers had lower DHA levels. Attention is considered an important, but not the only, component of intelligence early in life, lead researcher John Colombo, PhD, tells WebMD. "This adds to the mounting evidence that DHA plays an important part in brain development," he says.

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DHA is important for the deve loping brain, which accumulates large amounts of it during the first two years of life. Compared to the rest of the body, the brain and nervous system contains very high levels of DHA but its exact role in the brain is not fully known. Advantages Lasted DHA is found naturally in breast milk and is now available in infant formulas and some baby foods. Atlantic salmon, Pacific cod fish, and tuna are some of the best food sources of the omega- 3 fatty acid, but algae-derived DHA supplements are also now available. The study involved some 70 mothers and infants. At the ages of 4-, 6-, and 8-months of age, the babies were tested for visual learning ability. The testing involved showing them pictures and recording their reactions. "We know from past research that when we show babies pictures during the first year of life, as they get older they look less and less," Colombo says. "The reason is that they are taking in the information faster as they develop." Babies born to mothers who had higher blood levels of DHA scored better on the attention tests until 6 months of age, and they scored better on different tests designed to measure visual learning in older babies at 1 year and 18 months. The findings are reported in the July/August issue of the journal Child Development. Not So Fishy Food Sources While Colombo says he encourages his pregnant friends to add salmon to their diets, he adds that it is not yet clear how much DHA a woman needs during pregnancy. He hopes to answer this question in future studies with nutritionist and co-author Susan Carlson, PhD. "What we can say right now is that authorities are concerned that pregnant women are not getting enough omega in -3 their diets," Carlson tells WebMD. "A number of observational studies suggests a link between DHA levels during pregnancy and a baby's behavioral performance." But getting DHA from food sources can be problematic for pregnant women. The FDA recommends eating up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury, such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Mercury is less of an issue with salmon than tuna, but concerns have been raised about unsafe levels of the toxic chemical dioxin and polychlorinated byphenols (PCBs) in farmed salmon. PCBs have been linked to cancer and birth defects. Nutritionist Barbara Levine, PhD, recommends that pregnant women get their DHA through algae-derived supplements, available in health food stores. Omega-3-fortified eggs are another good source of DHA. Levine says studies suggest that women need about 250 mg of DHA daily during pregnancy, but very few are getting it. "It is true that we don't get a lot of DHA in our diets," she says. "It took forever to get the message across about the importance of folic acid early in pregnancy, but now it is in our wheat products and most women get what they need. Now we are trying to get the message out about DHA." SOURCES: Colombo et al., Child Development, July/August 2004, Vol. 75: pp. 1254-1267. John Colombo, PhD, professor of psychology, University of Kansas; associate director of cognitive neuroscience, Schiefelbusch Institute for Lifespan Studies at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Susan E. Carlson, PhD, Midwest Dairy Professor of Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center. Barbara Levine, PhD, associate professor of nutrition in medicine at Weill Medical College at Cornell University, New York, NY.

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Omega-3 Intake During Last Months Of Pregnancy Boosts An Infant's Cognitive And Motor Development
ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2008) ² A study supervised by Université Laval researchers Gina Muckle and ÉricDewailly reveals that omega-3 intake during the last months of pregnancy boosts an infant's sensory, cognitive, and motor development. The details of this finding are published in a recent edition of the Journal of Pediatrics. To come to this conclusion, researchers first measured docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) concentration type --a of omega-3 fatty acid involved in the development of neurons and retinas the umbilical cord blood of --in 109 infants. "DHA concentration in the umbilical cord is a good indicator of intra -uterine exposure to omega-3s during the last trimester of pregnancy, a crucial period for the development of retinal photoreceptors and neurons," explains Dr. Dewailly. Tests conducted on these infants at 6 and 11 months revealed that their visual acuity aswell as their cognitive and motor development were closely linked to DHA concentration in the umbilical cord blood at the time of their birth. However, there was very little relation between test results and DHA concentration in a mother's milk among infants who were breast-fed. "These results highlight the crucial importance of prenatal exposure to omega-3s in a child's development," points out Dr. Muckle. Researchers observed that DHA concentration in the umbilical cord blood was in direct relation withthe concentration found in a mother's blood, a reminder of the importance of a mother's diet in providing omega-3 fatty acids for the fetus. They also noted that DHA concentration was higher in the fetus's blood than in the mother's. "While developing its nervous system, a fetus needs great quantities of DHA. It can even transform other types of omega-3s into DHA in order to develop its brain," explains Dr. Dewailly. For the members of the research team, there is no doubt that all pregnant women should be e ncouraged to get sufficient amounts of omega-3s. "A diet rich in omega-3s during pregnancy can't be expected to solve everything, but our results show that such a diet has positive effects on a child's sensory, cognitive, and motor development. Benefits from eating fish with low contaminant levels and high omega-3 contents, such as trout, salmon, and sardines, far outweigh potential risks even during pregnancy," conclude the researchers. In addition to Muckle and Dewailly, who are also affiliated to the Centre de recherche du CHUQ, Quebec City, the study was co-authored by Pierre Ayotte from Université Laval, as well as Joseph Jacobson, Sandra Jacobson, and Melissa Kaplan-Estrin from Wayne State University. This study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Hydro -Québec, and Health Canada.


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Depression During Pregnancy: Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Treat This? - CAPT. Hibbeln, M.D.
By CAPT. Joseph R. Hibbeln Created 04/23/2010 - 14:47 CAPT. Hibbeln, M.D., discusses how omega-3 fatty acids help treat depression during pregnancy. Transcript: CAPT. Hibbeln, M.D.: The case of depression during pregnancy was an especially fascinating one and useful one, and that is that these fatty acids are so important, especially DHA ² Decosahexaenoic Acid -- is so important to the very bio-physical substance of neurons that mothers transport their sources of omega-3 fatty acids across the placenta selectively and concentrate it in the baby·s brains. Like with other nutrients that can easily leave the mother deficient and we have found, first of all looking across countries there·s almost a 50 -fold increased risk of depression during pregnancy in the postpartum in women who don·t eat fish. But also we looked at a very carefully controlled study in England that had 14,500 pregnancies in it, the Alsbach study in the University of Bristol. And in that study we found that for every dose of deficiency and seafood intake the mothers had, they had a marked increase in the risk of depression, especially in the third trimester when the transport of the fatty acids is the most important. So mothers can have this fatty acid probably literally being sucked out of their brains and their immune systems. And it is very difficult to do treatment studies of depression in pregnancy and that·s why there·s only one treatment study of antidepressants in pregnancy. But all the pilot data and the open data in trials we have done in pregnancy show a very profound treatment effect of omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy.



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