Fish Oil During Pregnancy

Could something as simple as taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy reduce a major health risk for your baby?

Vitamin B3 in Pregnancy
Photo: Elnur/Shutterstock

Consuming low-mercury fish while pregnant helps with Baby's growth and development. But did you know that taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy could provide health benefits as well?

In a study published in the December 2016 New England Journal of Medicine, Danish researchers observed nearly 700 pregnant women. They were given 2.4-gram tablets containing either fish oil or olive oil. Researchers monitored the health of their children for five years after this...and while 24 percent of the children whose mothers were given olive oil had developed asthma or wheezing by age five, only 17 percent of the children whose mothers took fish oil appeared to have the same issues.

This finding isn't exactly groundbreaking: The idea that fish oil could benefit pregnant women has been around for quite some time, and the researchers involved with this particular study weren't surprised to find a link.

"I would say that the finding that the effect was there was maybe not the surprise, because there have been indications," study author Hans Bisgaard, M.D., told NPR. "But the magnitude was very surprising to us."

These findings suggest a blood test could identify whether or not a pregnant woman's baby is at risk for asthma, which would in turn make it easier for doctors to identify which patients should take fish oil supplements during their third trimesters.

Fish oil supplements contain two types of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Many people take fish oil to manage heart disease, combat high blood pressure, and lower triglycerides. Various studies have also claimed fish oil helps kidney-related problems, depression, ADHD, psoriasis, diabetes, stomach ulcers, dry eyes, and countless other issues – so taking fish oil during pregnancy may help with more than decreasing Baby's asthma risk.

Consider discussing these findings with your doctor before stocking up on supplements.

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