Pregnancy: Fish Oil Studies

A randomized controlled trial of the effect of fish oil supplementation in late pregnancy and early lactation on the n-3 fatty acid content in human breast milk.

Lipids. 2004 Dec;39(12):1191-6.

Boris J, Jensen B, Salvig JD, Secher NJ, Olsen SF.

The aim of this research was to investigate the effect of fish oil supplementation, in the third trimester of pregnancy and early lactation period of healthy pregnant Danish women. Forty-four pregnant women were randomly allocated to fish oil supplementation (1.3 g EPA and 0.9 g DHA per day) from week 30 of gestation (FO-group) or to a control regimen (olive oil or no oil; controls). The FO-group was randomly subdivided into women stopping fish oil supplementation at delivery IFO(pregn)], and women continuing supplementation for an additional 30 d [FO(pregn/lact)]. Thirty-six women agreed to collect milk samples at days 4, 16, and 30 postpartum. The FA composition of the milk samples was determined by GLC. At days 4, 16, and 30 in lactation, FO(pregn/lact) women (n = 12) had, respectively 2.3 (P = 0.001), 4.1 (P = 0.001), and 3.3 (P = 0.001) times higher mean contents of LCPUFA(n-3) in their breast milk compared with controls (n = 13), and 1.7 (P = 0.005), 2.8 (P = 0.001), and 2.8 (P = 0.001) times higher LCPUFA(n-3) contents, respectively, at these days compared with FO(pregn) women (n = 11). The latter group did not differ significantly from controls with regard to LCPUFA(n-3) content in the breast milk. Similar results were obtained when analyzing separately for effects on the milk content of DHA. Dietary supplementation with 2.7 g LCPUFA(n-3) per day from week 30 of gestation and onward more than tripled the LCPUFA(n-3) content in early breast milk; supplementation limited to pregnancy only was much less effective.


Fish Oil Supplementation In Pregnancy And Risk Of Atopic Disease In Infants

Pediatr Res. 2005 Feb;57(2):276-81. Epub 2004 Dec 7.

Denburg JA, Hatfield HM, Cyr MM, Hayes L, Holt PG, Sehmi R, Dunstan JA, Prescott SL.

Dietary n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) may represent a mode of allergy prevention. Cord blood (CB) CD34+ hemopoietic progenitors are altered in infants at risk of atopy. We therefore studied the effects of dietary n-3 PUFA supplementation during pregnancy on numbers and function of progenitors in neonates at high risk of atopy. In a double-blind study, atopic, pregnant women were randomized to receive fish oil capsules or placebo from 20 wk gestation until delivery. At birth, CB CD34+ cells were isolated and analyzed by flow cytometry for expression of cytokine (IL-5Ralpha, IL-3Ralpha, granulocyte/macrophage colony stimulating factor Ralpha) or chemokine (CXCR4 and CCR3) receptors. CB cells were also cultured in methylcellulose assays for eosinophil/basophil colony-forming cells. At age 1 y, infants were clinically assessed for atopic symptoms and skin tests. Percentages of CB CD34+ cell numbers were higher after n-3 PUFA than placebo. Co expression of cytokine or chemokine receptors on CD34 cells was not altered by n-3 PUFA supplementation. However, there were significantly more IL-5-responsive CB eosinophil/basophil colony forming units (Eo/B-CFU) in the fish oil, compared with the control, group. Overall, there was a positive association between CD34+ cells and IL-5-responsive Eo/B-CFU in CB and 1 y clinical outcomes, including atopic dermatitis and wheeze. Dietary n-3 PUFA supplementation during pregnancy in atopic mothers alters infant cord blood hemopoietic progenitor phenotype. This may have an impact on development of atopic disease.


Fish Oil Fortification Of Infant Formula And Effects On Mental Development

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Mar;42(3):174-81.

Birch EE, Garfield S, Hoffman DR, Uauy R, Birch DG.

The effects of dietary docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supply during infancy on later cognitive development of healthy term infants were evaluated in a randomized clinical trial of infant formula milk supplemented with 0.35% DHA or with 0.36% DHA and 0.72% arachidonic acid (AA), or control formula which provided no DHA or AA. Fifty-six 18-month-old children (26 male, 30 female) who were enrolled in the trial within the first 5 days of life and fed the assigned diet to 17 weeks of age were tested using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 2nd edition (BSID-II) (Bayley 1993) at the Retina Foundation of the Southwest, Dallas, TX. These children had also been assessed at 4 months and 12 months of age for blood fatty-acid composition, sweep visual evoked potential (VEP) acuity, and forced-choice preferential looking (FPL) acuity (Birch et al. 1998). Supplementation of infant formula with DHA+AA was associated with a mean increase of 7 points on the Mental Development Index (MDI) of the BSID-II. Both the cognitive and motor subscales of the MDI showed a significant developmental age advantage for DHA- and DHA+AA-supplemented groups over the control group. While a similar trend was found for the language subscale, it did not reach statistical significance. Neither the Psychomotor Development Index nor the Behavior Rating Scale of the BSID-II showed significant differences among diet groups, consistent with a specific advantage of DHA supplementation on mental development. Significant correlations between plasma and RBC-DHA at 4 months of age but not at 12 months of age and MDI at 18 months of age suggest that early dietary supply of DHA was a major dietary determinant of improved performance on the MDI.


Fish Oil Accelerates Visual Maturation In Newborns

J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2307-13.

Hoffman DR, Theuer RC, Castaneda YS, Wheaton DH, Bosworth RG, O'Connor AR, Morale SE, Wiedemann LE, Birch EE.

Between 6 and 12 mo of age, blood levels of the (n-3) long-chain PUFA, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), in breast-fed infants typically decrease due to diminished maternal DHA stores and the introduction of DHA-poor solid foods displacing human milk as the primary source of nutrition. Thus, we utilized a randomized, clinical trial format to evaluate the effect of supplemental DHA in solid foods on visual development of breast-fed infants with the primary outcome, sweep visual-evoked potential (VEP) acuity, as an index for maturation of the retina and visual cortex. At 6 mo of age, breast-fed infants were randomly assigned to receive 1 jar (113 g)/d of baby food containing egg yolk enriched with DHA (115 mg DHA/100 g food; n = 25) or control baby food (0 mg DHA; n = 26). Gravimetric measures were used to estimate the supplemental DHA intake which was 83 mg DHA/d in the supplemented group and 0 mg/d in controls. Although many infants in both groups continued to breast-feed for a mean of 9 mo, RBC DHA levels decreased significantly between 6 and 12 mo (from 3.8 to 3.0g/100 g total fatty acids) in control infants, whereas RBC DHA levels increased by 34% from 4.1 to 5.5 g/100 g by 12 mo in supplemented infants. VEP acuity at 6mo was 0.49 logMAR (minimum angle of resolution) and improved to 0.29 logMAR by 12 mo in controls. In DHA-supplemented infants, VEP acuity was 0.48 logMAR at 6 mo and matured to 0.14 logMAR at 12 mo (1.5 lines on the eye chart better than controls). At 12 mo, the difference corresponded to 1.5 lines on the eye chart. RBC DHA levels and VEP acuity at 12 mo were correlated (r = -0.50; P = 0.0002), supporting the need of an adequate dietary supply of DHA throughout 1 y of life for neural development.


Fish Oil Supplementation In Pregnancy; Impact On Cognitive Development Of Children

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2006 Dec 21.

Dunstan JA, Simmer K, Dixon G, Prescott SL.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of antenatal omega 3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 LC PUFA) on cognitive development in a cohort of children whose mothers received high dose fish oil in pregnancy. DESIGN: A double blind randomized placebo controlled trial. SETTING: Perth, Western Australia. PATIENTS: Pregnant women (n=98) received the supplementation from 20 weeks gestation until delivery. Their infants (n=72) were assessed at 2(1/2) years of age. INTERVENTIONS: Fish oil (2.2g docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) plus 1.1g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)/day) or olive oil from 20 weeks gestation until delivery. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Effects on infant growth and developmental quotients (Griffiths Mental Development Scales), receptive language (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test) and behaviour (Child Behavior Checklist). RESULTS: Children in the fish oil supplemented group (n= 33) attained a significantly higher score for eye-hand coordination (mean score 114 SD 10.2) than the placebo group (n=39, mean score 108, SD 11.3) (P=0.021, adjusted P=0.008). Eye-hand coordination scores correlated with n-3 PUFA levels in cord blood erythrocytes (EPA: r=0.320, P=0.007 and DHA: r=0.308, P=0.009) and inversely correlated with n-6 PUFA (arachidonic acid; 20:4n-6: r= -0.331, P=0.005). Growth measurements in the two groups were similar at 2 1/2 years of age. CONCLUSION: Maternal fish oil supplementation during pregnancy is safe for the fetus and infant, and may have potentially beneficial effects on the child's eye and hand coordination. Further studies are needed to determine the significance of this finding.